International Rescue Committee aid workers in Afghanistan and Pakistan are prepared to respond after a massive earthquake centred near Afghanistan's northeastern border rocked the region today.
At least 215 people have been reported killed in the 7.5 magnitude quake, but it may be days before the full extent of the damage is known. IRC teams in both countries are safe and monitoring the situation as aftershocks continue.
In Pakistan, where the IRC responded to another powerful earthquake ten years ago this month, our team is in touch with disaster management authorities and other humanitarian organisations and preparing to launch an emergency response in hard-hit areas. We are especially concerned about the impact of the quake in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas along the Afghan border, where wintry conditions could hinder rescue and relief efforts.
While the IRC does not currently work just across the border, in the area of northeastern Afghanistan closest to the epicentre of the earthquake, our teams in other parts of the country are standing by to support emergency relief efforts there.
"The quake came just days after heavy rain fell in many parts of Afghanistan, making mud-built houses more vulnerable to collapse, as well as increasing the likelihood of landslides," said Allen Greenway, the IRC’s country director in Afghanistan.
The IRC in Afghanistan
The people of Afghanistan have suffered from frequent natural calamities such as earthquakes, droughts and floods — even as they have endured decades of wide-scale conflict. The IRC has worked in the country since 1988, providing humanitarian support from emergency response to education and development.
The IRC in Pakistan
The IRC has worked in Pakistan since 1980, providing emergency relief, health care, education, job training and other essential services in communities affected by conflict and natural disaster.