As new quake rocks Afghan villages, UN sends team to assess damage

As new quake rocks Afghan villages, UN sends team to assess damage

A team of United Nations experts rushed to remote villages in Afghanistan, where an earthquake today killed over two dozen people and injured scores of others.

The epicentre of the quake - which was estimated to have a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter Scale - was in Dawabi and Khojakheder, two villages located in the Hindu Kush Mountains in northern Afghanistan.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan confirmed that 27 people died in the earthquake, while an additional 120 were injured.

Responding to the disaster, a UN World Food Programme (WFP) helicopter travelled to the affected villages, carrying an emergency assessment team comprised of staff from WFP and other UN agencies.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, today departed for an eight-day official trip to the region, according to agency spokesman Ron Redmond.

During his visit to Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the High Commissioner "will be emphasising the importance of ensuring that the growing number of Afghans going home be given the longer-term support they need to make their return sustainable," Mr. Redmond told the press in Geneva.

The spokesman welcomed the continuing cross-border returns, calling them "a vote of confidence by Afghanistan's war-weary refugee population." He voiced hope that the situation inside the country would continue to stabilize and that donors' support for the Government's rehabilitation and development efforts would remain strong.