The rubble outlines of collapsed walls and roof are all that remains of the village where Zaitullah Ghurziwal lives, which was devastated by a devastating earthquake in Afghanistan that killed at least 1,000 people.
Shocked survivors in Ghurza wander around looking for shelter – or in the skies in the hope that help will be delivered by plane.
“There are no blankets or tents … there is no shelter. People are lying in open ground,” Ghurziwal told AFP, pointing to the derelict dwelling where he now resides with six other families.
“We need food and water. Our entire water distribution system is destroyed. Everything is devastated.”
Wednesday’s 5.9-magnitude earthquake — Afghanistan’s deadliest in years — hit harsh East Paktika province hardest. It not only damaged or destroyed thousands of earthen homes and other structures, but also brought down cellphone towers and power lines, and triggered rock and mud slides that blocked mountain roads.
The disaster poses a major logistical challenge for Afghanistan’s new Taliban government, which has isolated itself from much of the world by imposing harsh Islamist rule that subjugates women and girls.
International aid organizations trying to help are also overwhelmed.
Remote Ghurza is one of many small mountain villages in Bermal District, one of the hardest-hit areas.
Aid is beginning to trickle into the valley — a military helicopter seen flying overhead, dropping food in hard-to-reach places and picking up some injured to take them to hospital — but an AFP team saw none on Thursday United Nations presence.
– ‘helpless’ –
After the horror of the first few hours, the villagers have already dried their tears – the tragedy is well known in this area, which is one of the poorest in a country plagued by humanitarian crises, neglect and decades of war.
Villagers buried about 60 people on Wednesday, followed by 30 more on Thursday.
“We didn’t even have a shovel to dig, no equipment, so we used a tractor,” says Ghurziwal.
In the middle of a yard, his eighty-year-old mother lies slightly injured on a bed, protected from the sun by a sheet.
Last night children took refuge in a wheelless car from the heavy rain.
Nawab Khan told AFP news agency he had lost seven family members: his wife and six children.
Nearby, a tent is erected next to a leveled house, offering shelter to about 15 women and children.
Another elderly woman, wearing a floral red velvet dress and a long green scarf, lost four relatives.
“I buried her today,” she says, calling herself Zulfana.
Now there is nothing left but to wait for the arrival of help and rescuers.
“I feel so helpless, I don’t have a dime,” she sighs.
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