UN and Pakistan start sending aid to Afghanistan hit by earthquake

Rescuers are struggling to reach survivors of Wednesday's powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan as poor road conditions hamper their efforts.

The magnitude 5.9 temblor hit the eastern province of Khost before dawn on Wednesday.

Authorities in Khost and the neighboring Paktika province told NHK that the death toll has risen above 1,000, and more than 1,600 others were injured.

Most of the houses in the affected areas are built from clay bricks, and a large number of people are believed to be trapped under their collapsed houses.

On Thursday, workers at the UN World Food Programme based in the capital Kabul loaded about 130 tons of wheat onto trucks in preparation for operations to send them to the affected areas. The wheat included a donation from the Japanese government.

Shelly Thakral, a spokesperson for the WFP office in Kabul, appealed for international help. She said that it is vital to get emergency supplies to the people who need them as soon as possible. She said the powerful earthquake will only add to the enormous suffering that Afghan people were already enduring.

Also on Thursday, the government of Pakistan also started transporting truck-loads of tents, medicine, and other emergency supplies from the capital Islamabad.

International efforts to provide the urgently needed disaster relief are being hampered by the fact that following the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan last August, a number of countries have closed their embassies and international NGOs have ended their activity in the country.