On Wednesday, June 22, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit the Paktika and Khost provinces of Afghanistan killing at least 1,000 people, injuring more than 1,500 and causing widespread damage to infrastructure and homes. International Medical Corps was the first to respond in Gayan district-the worst-affected area. Our teams have confirmed that many villages have sustained significant damage, with most residents either killed or injured.
The magnitude 5.9 earthquake--which was recorded at a depth of about 6 miles--was felt in neighboring provinces including Kabul, as well as in Islamabad, Pakistan and India. With widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure-including up to 70% of homes in some villages-the number of casualties is expected to rise as search-and-rescue operations continue in rugged, remote terrain. Cholera outbreaks and increased COVID-19 cases following the widespread displacement are of particular concern.
Working with local health authorities, we are treating patients through our First Aid Trauma Post and redeploying teams from other parts of the country to support the need for trauma care. We also are moving medicines, medical supplies and ambulances from other facilities to the affected area, supporting triage efforts and helping to move the seriously injured via helicopter. Other priority needs in the region include emergency shelter, non-food items, food assistance and WASH support.
International Medical Corps was established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses to address the critical need for medical care in war-torn Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Over the decades, we have provided healthcare, training, emergency response, disaster resilience, mental health and psychosocial support, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, and COVID-19-related services. We will use our understanding of the local context as we provide humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.