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Mercy Corps staff report "total devastation" in villages hit by quake

Afghanistan, March 27, 2002

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    Afghan men dig through rubble after a devastating earthquake. Photo: David Wahib/Mercy Corps. Photo:

Mercy Corps staff in northern Afghanistan report widespread damage to homes and infrastructure in Nahrin and surrounding villages following severe earthquakes and continuing aftershocks that began on Monday. The number of injured is likely to rise as rescue teams reach outlying villages.

Mercy Corps staff are conducting rapid assessments of earthquake damage. In 11 villages surveyed in the southern Burqa district alone, Mercy Corps reports 220 injured and 79 dead, and 90% of houses destroyed, leaving 1140 families without homes.

“There is total devastation here,” reports Joerg Denker, Mercy Corps’ Program Manager in Nahrin. “The houses have been shaken down to their foundations.”

Denker reports aftershocks being felt nearly every hour. “It is not over here,” he notes.

Up to 2,000 people are feared dead with more than 3,000 injured after earthquakes rocked the Baghlan province of northern Afghanistan on Monday and Tuesday. There are no reported injuries among Mercy Corps’ approximately 50 staff members in northern Afghanistan.

Denker describes a population in shock. Many people who have lost their homes or are too afraid to return to damaged buildings are sleeping outside in freezing temperatures. A steady stream of patients, many of them women and children, are arriving at clinics for treatment.

Mercy Corps dispatched eight truckloads of relief supplies - including blankets, tents and plastic sheeting for temporary shelter - to the earthquake area from its warehouse in Taloqan, 80 miles northeast of Nahrin.

Mercy Corps is seeking financial contributions to restock its supplies of relief goods to address the needs of the newly homeless of Nahrin as well as to continue to provide essential aid to internally displaced families and returning refugees.

Mercy Corps has been working in Afghanistan since 1986. In the north, the agency has been providing aid to families impacted by earthquakes, drought and civil conflict since 1998.