More than 150 people are believed to have died, mostly in Pakistan, after the powerful 7.7 strong earthquake in Afghanistan overnight.
Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the quake had struck in a very remote, mountainous area. The agency is well-positioned to respond in both countries, although access in Afghanistan will be a problem due to security issues.
She said telecommunications were mostly down and the number of casualties was expected to rise once contact was made with people in remote Badakhshan province in Afghanistan.
“We have teams working with local authorities and organisations assessing the scale of the damage and what is needed and we have teams ready to respond where needed,” Dr Szoke said.
“The extent of damage and casualties is still not very clear as information is only slowly coming in from rural areas, hindered by lack of communications.
“We expect people to be fearful of aftershocks and likely to be sleeping in the open. They will need protection from the elements, food, clean water and hygiene essentials such as soap. It will soon be winter and people will need shelters that will keep them warm from sub-zero temperatures.”
Buildings have been evacuated and communications disrupted in many areas. The area is extremely mountainous so there is a risk of landslides and avalanches.
Oxfam has worked in Afghanistan for more than 30 years in areas such as disaster response, governance, livelihoods and women’s rights, and has an office in Badakhshan province.
We have pre-positioned stocks including hygiene kits, latrines and other emergency supplies.
After years of conflict and natural disasters, Afghanistan remains one of the least developed countries in the world.
To donate to Oxfam’s emergency work around the world, call 1800 034 034, or go to oxfam.org.au/icf
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