Monday’s destructive earthquake in Afghanistan has left over 340 people dead in the northeastern provinces of Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Among the dead were 12 school girls who perished in a stampede, as they tried to flee their school in Taloqan, located in Takhar province of Afghanistan. Even as the girls attempted to evacuate the building, the rooftop of the school collapsed.
Officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan expect the death toll to rise. As of Tuesday, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reported that as many as 115 people were dead and more than 500 injured in nine Afghan provinces, as well as in the capital city of Kabul. Hundreds more have been reported dead in Pakistan where the affected regions are more populous than in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan that were hit.
The quake, which struck Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush Mountains, registered at a magnitude of 7.5 and sent shockwaves as far as New Delhi, India. Communications were down in many of the rural areas affected, and Unicef is reporting that some of the areas hit are either inaccessible or difficult to reach. The Afghan government is conducting an assessment of the damage caused by the quake and has announced that it will assist victims and conduct rescue operations.
There is severe infrastructural damage in several Afghan provinces, including in Kabul where many people have lost their homes. Afghans are also in need of food, water, and other emergency relief services. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the US will provide support to Afghanistan and Pakistan as needed.
The 12 school girls who were lost to the quake were laid to rest today in an emotional gathering in Takhar.
Media Resources: Office of the President of Afghanistan 10/27/15, 10/26/15; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 10/27/15; Unicef 10/27/15; Reuters 10/26/15