KABUL: The death toll of children alone in last week’s devastating earthquake in south-eastern Afghanistan has risen to at least 155, the United Nations said.
The UN’s humanitarian coordination organization, OCHA, said that another 250 children were injured in the magnitude 6 tremor that struck the mountainous villages in the Paktika and Khost provinces near the country’s border with Pakistan last week, flattening homes and triggering landslides.
Most of the children died in Paktika’s hard-hit Gayan district, which remains a scene of life in ruins, days after the quake.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have put the total death toll from the quake at 1,150, with hundreds more injured, while the UN has offered a slightly lower estimate of 770, although the world body has warned the figure could still rise.
The quake has also left an estimated 65 children orphaned or unaccompanied, the UN humanitarian office added.
The disaster – the latest to convulse Afghanistan after decades of war, hunger, poverty and an economic crash – has become a test of the Taliban’s capacity to govern and the international community’s willingness to help.
When the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan as the United States and its Nato allies were withdrawing their forces last August, foreign aid stopped practically overnight.