Quake-hit Afghan village struggles back to life as aid trickles in

WUCHKAI, AFGHANISTAN: A ruined village in eastern Afghanistan, just 10 kilometers (six miles) from the epicenter of this week’s deadly earthquake, is struggling to come back to life as aid pours into the devastated area. create.
Wuchkai, a three-hour drive from the nearest town, can only be reached by a narrow, rutted dirt road – there’s only room for one car in places.
Isolated, without electricity and water, the village stretches across a vast basin surrounded by majestic hills and bisected by an almost dry river.
Many houses, workshops and shops in the village were destroyed by Wednesday’s 5.9-magnitude earthquake, the epicenter of which was recorded on the other side of the hills beside it.
More than 1,000 people were killed in the earthquake – the deadliest earthquake in more than two decades – with Wuchkai alone accounted for at least three dozen.
Now survivors are trying to find shelter in the ruins of their homes, desperately depending on the aid convoys that have begun to arrive.
Raqim Jan, 23, said: “I ask and expect the world and the government to provide us with the basics we need to live.
Jan lost 11 members of his extended family when their one-story home took over as they slept early on Wednesday.
Almost every family loses at least one member – and most lose many others – so they are coming together to share resources.
Jan now lives with four other families – 15 women and about 20 children – in three large tents set up near their dilapidated home.
Help has arrived, but he worries about how long it will last.
“The tents, food, and flour we received in a few days were not enough,” says Jan, as a community fire for cooking sent smoke spiraling above the campsite. makeshift camp.
Nearby, children were playing – seemingly oblivious to their plight – while the children wailed for attention.
A cow tethered to a pole was munching as chickens roamed the dusty ground, pecking at nothing in the dust.
The men of the village occasionally broke into the ruins of their houses, trying to salvage anything of value that could be found in the ruins.
But they walked cautiously, as any walls that remained standing were cracked – in danger of collapsing at any moment – and aftershocks were still being felt.
A violent tremor killed five people in the same county early Thursday.
In the center of Wuchkai, a steady stream of aid vehicles arrived, sending up dust clouds from roads that were drying up after days of torrential rain.
While the big operators seem organized – such as the World Food Program and Doctors Without Borders – the smaller Afghan-led distribution is more chaotic.
Temperatures flared as dozens of villagers scrambled in the back of a truck on Thursday, trying to get bean bags donated by a businessman from Kabul.
An armed platoon Taliban grabbed a particularly pompous young man and roughly took him away in their car.
Not far away, bent in half under the weight of the wrapper, 20-year-old Kawsar Uddin and his uncle carried a tent that would become the family’s temporary home.
Faced with the current influx of aid, Uddin is skeptical of motives and accuses aid organizations of staging “image operations”.
“They have distributed food and tents … but some are doing business on the blood of the Afghan people,” he said.

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