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Earthquake Injures Dozens, Destroys Hundreds of Homes in Afghanistan

FILE - A 5.1 magnitude earthquake struck the same region of eastern Afghanistan – pictured here – on Monday as one did in late June. The June quake killed hundreds of people and destroyed dozens of structures, such as those in this photo taken June 24, 2022.

Taliban authorities in Afghanistan said Tuesday that an overnight earthquake in a remote southeastern region injured nearly 44 people and destroyed 600 homes.

The temblor jolted several districts of Paktika province, where a 5.9 magnitude earthquake last month killed more than 1,000 people, injured nearly 3,000 and destroyed or partially damaged at least 4,500 homes.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the latest earthquake had a magnitude of 5.1 and residents have since reported several aftershocks.

A provincial government spokesman, Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, told VOA that women and children were among at least 31 people injured in Paktika. Taliban officials in neighboring Khost province, which was also hit by the previous earthquake, reported at least 13 injuries Monday from tremors.

The United Nations said in its latest assessment this week that the June 22 earthquake had impacted more than 360,000 people in Paktika and Khost, which border Pakistan.

Huzaifa said Paktika had suffered 30 aftershocks since last month’s quake.

War-ravaged Afghanistan is already among the world’s largest humanitarian emergencies. The United Nations says, in part due to severe drought and economic crisis, more than half of the country’s estimated 40 million population need assistance and malnutrition is on the rise.

The U.N. has appealed for $4.4 billion this year, but currently faces a 70% shortfall.

The recent earthquakes and incidents of increased flash flooding due to unusually heavy rains risk exposing the limitations of the cash-strapped Taliban government, which is largely isolated from the outside world.

The hardline Islamist group military seized power from the then-internationally backed Afghan government nearly a year ago, prompting donor countries to suspend financial assistance and impose sanctions on the Afghan banking sector over terrorism and human rights concerns.

The measures have triggered economic upheaval and deteriorating humanitarian conditions, according to aid agencies.

International humanitarian assistance, however, continues to flow into the country.

The global community has not yet recognized the Taliban government, and billions of dollars in Afghan central bank reserves also remain frozen overseas as United States-led Western nations push the Islamist rulers to ease restrictions on women’s rights to work and education.