Peshawar (AsiaNews) - The Taliban has issued a statement calling for humanitarian organizations to help the victims of the earthquake that hit the region north of Afghanistan, largely under their control, and ordered its militiamen to give their "unconditional support" to victims and relief efforts.
The 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the region on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, the epicenter is in the province of Badakhshan (North-East), largely under the control of the Taliban. Rescue operations are delayed due to lack of security and the mountainous character of the area. The death toll in this area has risen to 115 dead, hundreds injured and at least 7 thousand homes destroyed.
In Pakistan, the toll is even higher, with 245 deaths, more than 1,600 injured and more than 4 thousand homes destroyed.
The area most affected is that of the Swat Valley and areas near Dir, Malakand and Shangla. Although relief efforts are underway for the thousands of people who have been living outdoors in winter temperatures, the Pakistani media are warning that there are at least 5 thousand inaccessible villages in the area of the Kalash valley where aid can not reach.
While the mountains around the affected areas are already covered with snow, people have organized mass funerals and graves to bury the victims.
Caritas Pakistan is already at work in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar to meet the needs of the displaced and wounded arriving at hospitals. One group left for the most affected area, that of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to draw up an action plan.
So fa there have been reports of two churches that suffered damage in the quake, the St. Michael's and St. John Vianney's in Peshawar.