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Earthquake-hit Afghan village fights back as help arrives

#Earthquakehit #Afghan #village #fights #arrives

A devastated village in eastern Afghanistan, just 10 kilometers (six miles) from the epicenter of this week’s deadly earthquake, is fighting back to life as aid seeps into the isolated region.

Wuchkai, three hours from the nearest town of note, can only be reached via a narrow, rutted gravel road — some only suitable for one vehicle.

Isolated, without electricity or water, the village extends over a large basin surrounded by imposing hills and cut by an almost dry river.

Many of the village’s homes, workshops and shops were destroyed by Wednesday’s 5.9-magnitude earthquake, whose epicenter was recorded across the flanking hills.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the quake – the deadliest in the country in over two decades – with at least three dozen people dying in Wuchkai alone.

Now the survivors are trying to find shelter in the rubble of their homes, desperately dependent on the aid convoys that are already arriving.

“I ask and expect the world and government to provide us with the basic necessities that we need to live,” said Raqim Jan, 23.

– Almost every family has lost someone –

Jan lost 11 members of his extended family when their one-story apartment collapsed on them as they slept early Wednesday.

Almost every family has lost at least one member—and most many more—so they come together to share resources.

Jan now lives with four other families – including 15 women and around 20 children – in three large tents that have been set up near their destroyed homes.

Help has arrived, but he worries how long it will take.

“The tents, food and flour we received for a few days are not enough,” says Jan, while a communal cooking fire drives smoke across the makeshift campsite.

Nearby, children play – seemingly unaware of their distress – while babies scream for attention.

A cow tied to a pole broods while chickens strut about the dusty terrain, pecking at nothing in the dust.

The villagers occasionally make forays into the ruins of their homes, looking for valuables that can be found in the rubble.

But they are proceeding cautiously, as all the walls that remain are cracked – threatening to collapse at any moment – and aftershocks can still be felt.

A powerful tremor killed five people in the same district early Thursday.

– Incoming support vehicles –

A steady stream of relief vehicles arrive in central Wuchkai, kicking up clouds of dust from streets that are finally drying up after days of torrential rain.

While the big operators appear organized – like the World Food Program and Doctors Without Borders – the smaller Afghan-led distribution is more chaotic.

Tempers flared when dozens of villagers climbed over the back of a truck Thursday to try to grab sacks of beans donated by a Kabul businessman.

A platoon of armed Taliban grabbed a particularly ebullient young man and dragged him away in their vehicle.

Not far away, Kawsar Uddin, 20, and his uncle, hunched under the weight of the bundle, are carrying a tent that will become the family’s temporary home.

In view of the stream of aid that is now arriving, Uddin is skeptical about the motivation and accuses aid organizations of staging “photo opportunities”.

“They have distributed food and tents… but some are making deals in Afghan blood,” he says.

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#Earthquakehit #Afghan #village #fights #arrives

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