KABUL: The Taliban Tuesday urged charity organizations not to hold back in delivering aid to Afghan victims of a devastating earthquake, saying militants in the affected areas were ordered to provide “complete help.”
At least 76 people were killed in Afghanistan after the powerful quake struck Monday in the Hindu Kush region, officials said, raising fears that the toll could rise as the full extent of the devastation emerges.
Rescuers are battling to access some of the worst affected areas across multiple provinces that are effectively under militant control, a huge challenge to any official aid efforts.
But the Taliban on Tuesday promised to pave access for aid organizations.
“The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) calls on… charitable organizations to not hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims of this earthquake,” the group said on its website.
“It similarly orders its Mujahideen in the affected areas to lend their complete help to the victims and facilitate those giving charity to the needy.”
Afghan disaster management officials say areas around the quake’s epicenter in the remote province of Badakhshan as well as neighboring provinces such as Takhar and Kunar have suffered huge devastation.
Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah said an initial assessment shows around 4,000 houses have been damaged by the powerful quake.
“Some 76 people including women and children were killed and 268 others were injured in the quake,” he said, warning that the toll was expected to rise.