In a stricken village in Paktika, ‘Everyone here cried from night to morning.’


Zakiullah Atal, a religious scholar, was asleep at the Islamic seminary where he works in the Gayan district of Afghanistan’s Paktika Province when he was awakened early on Wednesday by the sound of his students shouting.

Miraculously, he said, the earthquake that jolted eastern Afghanistan did not injure anyone at the religious school. But less than 1,000 yards away, the roofs of his house and his brother’s house next door collapsed.

Mr. Zakiullah’s 1-year-old son, Osman, was killed, along with his brother and sister-in-law and three of their children.

More than 200 people have been killed in Gayan district, he said. In his village, Tery, most of the houses either collapsed or were damaged, he said.

“Everyone here cried from night to morning,” he said.

Aid began arriving on Thursday in Gayan, as Taliban government helicopters dropped sacks of bread and relief supplies amid crowds of waiting villagers. But the quake has left Tery and other villages uninhabitable, Mr. Zakiullah said, adding that residents were desperate for the government and humanitarian agencies to deliver tents for families, many of whose incomes depend on collecting pine nuts from the mountainous forests nearby.

With rain pelting the area and houses flattened, he said, “Some people are living outdoors.”


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