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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

devastating Earthquake rocks Afghanistan - leaves thousands dead !!

The name Durand may strike a chord !  - Sir Henry Mortimer Durand (1850 – 1924)  was a British diplomat and member of the Indian Civil Service. Born at Sehore, Bhopal, India, he was the son of Sir Henry Marion Durand, the Resident of Baroda and he was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, and Tonbridge School. 

Paktika is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the eastern part of the country. Forming part of the larger Loya Paktia region, Paktika has a population of mostly ethnic Pashtuns. The town of Sharana serves as the provincial capital, while the most populous city is Urgun. Paktika sits adjacent to the Durand Line border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Shinkay Hills run through the center of Paktika; Toba Kakar Range runs along the border with Pakistan.   Paktika, like many other areas of Afghanistan, has been severely deforested. This has been a cause of devastating floods in recent years. The province is mainly hilly and interspersed with seasonal river valleys.  The Gomal River, which has a varied flow depending on season, runs from its origin in the mountains of the Sar Hawza District and flows south, before turning southeast to the Pakistani border, forming the broad river valley that defines the topography of the Gomal District, before flowing east through Pakistan and eventually running to the powerful Indus River.

An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the perceptible shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can be violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities.


Earthquakes have been occurring on Earth since its formation. They occur when tectonic plates that are sliding against or past each other build up enough tension to slip, causing the rock to settle into a new position and the ground to shake. The United States Geological Survey predicts that 500,000 earthquakes happen every year, although most go undetected because they are so small or so far away from populated areas. 10,000 of them can be felt by humans and 100 of them cause damage. Unfortunately, scientists have not yet discovered a reliably precise way to predict earthquakes, and there is debate over whether such a thing is even possible. Current prediction methods involve measuring the tension that has been bled off by past earthquakes and how often earthquakes have occurred at that location before. Due to the fact that the instruments that can measure tension and accurate seismographs are a recent invention, earthquake prediction continues to be inaccurate and imprecise. 

A powerful earthquake has killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 in eastern Afghanistan, an official of the ruling Taliban told the BBC.  The Taliban appealed for international help for the rescue effort as pictures showed landslides and ruined mud-built homes in the province of Paktika. The quake struck shortly after 01:30 (this morning) as people slept.  Media reports suggest that hundreds  of houses had been  destroyed by the magnitude 6.1 event, which occurred at a depth of 51km (32 miles). 

Landlocked and mountainous, Afghanistan has suffered from such chronic instability and conflict during its modern history that its economy and infrastructure are in ruins, and many of its people are refugees. The Taliban, who imposed strict Islamic rule following a devastating civil war, were ousted by a US-led invasion in 2001, but made a rapid comeback to take over almost all of the country after US forces left in 2021. Hibatullah Akhundzada became the supreme commander of the Taliban in 2016, and is now head of state of their interim government in Kabul, called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. He fought in the resistance to the Soviet military occupation in the 1980s, and went on to lead the Islamic courts during the Taliban's last period in government in 1996-2001.


It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades and a major challenge for the Taliban, the Islamist movement which regained power last year after the Western-backed government collapsed. The earthquake struck about 44km from the city of Khost and tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan.  Witnesses reported feeling the quake in both Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, and Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Taliban officials asked the UN to "support them in terms of assessing the needs and responding to those affected", Sam Mort from Unicef's Kabul unit told the BBC. 

Earthquakes tend to cause significant damage in Afghanistan, where dwellings in many rural areas are unstable or poorly built. Speaking to Reuters news agency, locals described horrific scenes of death and destruction in the aftermath of the late-night earthquake. "Every street you go, you hear people mourning the deaths of their beloved ones," a journalist in Paktika province told the BBC.  Afghanistan’s deputy minister for disaster management Sharafuddin Muslim said at least 920 people had been killed and a further 600 injured, at a news conference.  Media reports suggest that death toll could be much more ! The devastation caused by the earthquake include villages razed to the ground. There have been landslides and destroyed mud houses in the eastern province of Paktika, according to the BBC.    

The quake was of 6.1 magnitude, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, and tremors were also felt in neighbouring Pakistan. 

The Durand Line  forms the Afghanistan–Pakistan border, a 2,670-kilometre (1,660 mi) international land border between the countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia. The western end runs to the border with Iran and the eastern end to the border with China. The Durand Line was established in 1893 as the international border between British India and the Emirate of Afghanistan by Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat of the Indian Civil Service, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Emir, to fix the limit of their respective spheres of influence and improve diplomatic relations and trade. The British considered Afghanistan to be an independent state at the time, although they controlled its foreign affairs and diplomatic relations.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd June 2022. 

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