Rescuers struggling to reach Afghans hit by quake

Heavy rain, threadbare resources and rugged terrain are hampering rescuers in south-east Afghanistan, where a powerful earthquake is reported to have killed more than 1,000 people.

Unknown numbers were buried in the rubble of ruined, often mud-built homes by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake.

Afghanistan’s health system was facing near collapse even before the disaster.

The Taliban authorities have called for more international aid. Communication networks are also badly hit.

“We can’t reach the area – networks are too weak,” said a Taliban spokesperson.

The United Nations is among those scrambling to provide emergency shelter and food aid to remove areas in the worst-hit Paktika province.

Survivors and rescuers said villages completely destroyed the epicentre of the quake, of ruined roads and mobile phone towers – and of their fears that the death toll will rise further. Some 1,500 people were also injured, said officials.

Doctors said they believe many of the dead are children who were unable to get out of buildings in time.

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