Iranian airport staff load a large cargo plane full of humanitarian aid to be sent to Afghanistan following the deadly earthquake on 22 June 2022. (Photo credit: Mahmood Hosseini / Tasnim News Agency)
Following the devastating 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Afghanistan on the morning of 22 June, the Islamic Republic of Iran has quickly deployed two large cargo planes filled with humanitarian aid to be disbursed to the area struck by the tragic natural disaster.
Following the earthquake, one of the largest in decades, the initial number of dead was determined to be 200, but the number of confirmed dead quickly rose to over 1,000 people, with over 1,000 reported as injured.
The airplanes were mostly loaded with medical equipment and first aid supplies, as announced by the Iranian Embassy in Kabul on the same day as the tragic earthquake.
Devastating news of a horrific disaster in Afghanistan: At least 1000 killed and 1,500 injured in deadly earthquake.#افغانستان_تسلیت pic.twitter.com/Gc8Yi27Bdm
— Zahra Shafei 🇮🇷 (@shafei_d) June 22, 2022
Iran was the first country to send tangible aid to the tragedy-stricken Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath.
Pakistan has pledged to send relief aid and the UN aid organization Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) is additionally set to deploy response teams to the area.
According to Iranian state news agency IRNA, the Iranian foreign ministry also sent its condolences to Afghanistan over the tragic loss of life.
#Iran FM Spox @SKhatibzadeh offers regret over deadly quake in #Afghanistan https://t.co/kxlebeeiHb pic.twitter.com/3AmUH8yQbh
— Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (@Iran_GOV) June 22, 2022
Hundreds of homes have also been destroyed. The southeastern mountainous region which was the epicenter of the quake is largely underdeveloped.
The quake hit 44 kilometers from the city of Khost near the Pakistani border, according to data from the US Geological Survey (USGC).
Most of the confirmed deaths were in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Paktika, Interior Ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said.
“I have tragic reports from my native Paktika province, where hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in the devastating earthquakes. Homes are destroyed, and people are under the rubble,” Khalid Zadran, a police spokesman in the capital Kabul, said in a tweet.
Authorities say they launched a rescue operation, while helicopters were used to reach the injured and to deliver medical supplies and food.
Zadran also released footage of Taliban officials leaving Kabul for Paktika with aid.
The earthquake was felt by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) announced.
This disaster comes just as Afghanistan is facing a severe humanitarian crisis caused by western sanctions, as well as a US-led cut in billions of dollars worth of development aid.
After the Taliban consolidated power in Kabul, defeating the US-trained Afghan army, Washington moved to freeze nearly $10 billion of the country’s foreign reserves.
Joe Biden then ordered that half of those reserves be used to pay the families of the victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks.
Last month, the UN revealed that nearly 20 million Afghans – nearly half of the country’s population – are facing acute levels of hunger in the aftermath of the 20-year military invasion of the country.
“The impact of high food prices, sanctions on de facto authorities, unemployment and a significant decline in incomes and community purchasing power are the main impediments to an improvement in the post-harvest situation,” said Richard Trenchard, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative in the country.