Annan saddened by loss of life in wake of Afghan earthquake
The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today expressed his deep sadness at the loss of life from the earthquake and severe landslides that had struck Afghanistan on Sunday, while UN relief workers rushed in to assess emergency needs.
"This is the newest in a series of devastating natural disasters to befall the long-suffering Afghan people, as they struggle to piece back their country and restart their shattered lives," a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement.
"The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and to the Interim Authority of the country," the spokesman said.
The earthquake, which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale, had its epicentre in the Hindu Kush region, but was felt as far afield as Kabul, Jalalabad, Faizabad, Mazar and Bamiyan, according to the latest situation report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The UN’s humanitarian response to the earthquake began this morning, with two World Food Programme (WFP) helicopters heading to the affected area from Mazar-i-Sharif to carry out an emergency assessment, according to WFP. The agency also has 22 tonnes of food on trucks en route, and two C-130 airplanes loaded with food, blankets and medicine in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on standby, so they can be sent in rapidly if the helicopter assessment team decides they are needed.
UN officials meanwhile were in contact with Halo Trust, a non-governmental organization which operates in Afghanistan as part of the UN Mine Action Programme, to seek information on possible landmine sites in the earthquake area.