US & World

After earthquake in Afghanistan, a complicated rescue mission

A man clears rubble from the roof of his house in the Behsud district of Jalalabad province, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.
A man clears rubble from the roof of his house in the Behsud district of Jalalabad province, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.
Parwiz/Reuters/Landov

More than 300 people are dead the day after an earthquake hit Afghanistan and shook surrounding countries. At least 2,000 people are injured, NPR's Philip Reeves reports.

"This is a very remote landscape," Reeves notes, "and it can take a long time before you find out exactly who's been impacted by a disaster of this kind."

The magnitude 7.5 quake struck the Hindu Kush mountains on Monday. It started about 130 miles underground, the U.S. Geological Survey says, lessening its potential blow.

Still, at least 237 people have died in Pakistan and 74 in Afghanistan, The Associated Press reports, citing country officials. Landslides and rough terrain are making it difficult to reach people in need.

The mountains also serve as a haven for militants, Reeves says. The epicenter of the earthquake in fact was not far from Kunduz, which militants briefly held last month.

Tuesday, the Taliban told its fighters to help aid organizations distribute materials and expressed sympathy for the victims.

"This recalls what happened in 2005," Reeves says, "where one militant group in particular ... played a leading role in supplying aid and assistance to earthquake victims in that earthquake, which killed more than 75,000 people. And that organization won quite a lot of public approval for so doing."

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