South Korea, Japan announce aid for Afghanistan

South Korea and Japan have announced assistance for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it planned to provide 1 million in humanitarian aid to the victims.

South Korea’s neighbor Japan also plans to help Afghanistan, a government spokesman said on the same day.

At a regular press conference, Seiji Kihara, Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary, said the government was coordinating steps to “send urgently needed assistance” as well as assessing the situation to assess local needs.

At least 1,000 people were killed and at least 1,500 injured when a magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook the region of Khost, 44 kilometers southwest of Afghanistan, on Wednesday morning. An unknown number are still buried under the rubble. Most of the destroyed houses are made of mud.

Several villages in the vicinity of the quake’s epicenter were completely destroyed. The worst affected districts are Gayan and Barmal in neighboring Paktika province.

Roads and mobile phone towers were damaged after the quake, making communication difficult. The death toll is expected to rise further.
The ruling Taliban has appealed for international help in the aftermath of the quake.

Heavy rain, threadbare resources and rugged terrain are hampering rescuers in south-east Afghanistan, where a powerful earthquake is reported to have killed more than 1,000 people.

Unknown numbers were buried in the rubble of ruined, often mud-built homes by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake.

Afghanistan’s health system was facing near collapse even before the disaster.

The Taliban authorities have called for more international aid. Communication networks are also badly hit.

“We can’t reach the area – networks are too weak,” a Taliban spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The United Nations is among those scrambling to provide emergency shelter and food aid to remote areas in the worst-hit Paktika province.

Survivors and rescuers have told the BBC of villages completely destroyed near the epicentre of the quake, of ruined roads and mobile phone towers – and of their fears that the death toll will rise further. Some 1,500 people were also injured, officials say.