Earthquake in Afghanistan: the tears of pain of the wounded who lost theirs

Earthquake in Afghanistan: the tears of pain of the wounded who lost theirs

“Now I am alone, I no longer have anyone”. On her hospital bed in Sharan, Bibi Hawa’s face was distorted by tears. At least a dozen of his family members died in the earthquake that struck southeast Afghanistan on Wednesday.

“Where will I go, where will I go? My heart is weak,” repeats Bibi Hawa, 55, in tears. She lived in the district of Gayan, one of the most affected by the earthquake.

A nurse tries to calm her down, talking to her and stroking her forehead gently with her hand.

In the room, like her, a dozen women are lying on a bed. Most are sleeping, buried under a blanket, some with an IV hooked up to their arm.

Shahmira is seated. She is uninjured and holds her one-year-old grandson lying in front of her. He has a large bandage on one temple.

On the bed next door, her stepdaughter is sleeping. Her son, also injured, is being treated in a hospital ward.

“We were sleeping when we heard a loud noise. I screamed, I thought my family was buried in the rubble and that I was the only one” to have survived, she says, a big colorful shawl on the head.

Wounded treated at Sharan hospital after an earthquake in Paktika province, southeastern Afghanistan (AFP – Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN)

“We thought that child (his grandson) was dead (…) But suddenly he cried. We sprinkled water on his face and he started to breathe”, she adds .

In an adjoining room, a dozen men are also stretched out on their beds.

A father holds his son on his lap. The child is wearing mustard pants with small black hearts. The bottom of his left leg is in plaster.

– ‘Like a tsunami’ –

A boy is lying under a blue blanket. His left arm is in a cast. His khaki shirt is still dusty. On his forehead was stuck a white bandage with the word “emergency” written in black marker.

A young injured man treated at Sharan hospital, after an earthquake in the province of Paktika, on June 22, 2022 in the south-east of Afghanistan (AFP - Abdullah HASRAT)
A young injured man treated at Sharan hospital, after an earthquake in the province of Paktika, on June 22, 2022 in the south-east of Afghanistan (AFP – Abdullah HASRAT)

His eyes are red with fatigue and tears.

In another room, Arup Khan, 22, came to accompany his injured cousin to the hospital. Two members of his family died.

“When I got up, I was covered in dust. People came and took us out of there. The situation was horrible (…) There were screams everywhere, the children and my whole family were under the mud,” he said.

“It’s so sad,” said Mohammad Yahya Wiar, director of Sharan hospital.

He was alerted around 3:00 a.m. and immediately sent teams to the scene. They arrived only around 9:00 a.m., as the affected areas are difficult to access.

When the injured arrived, they “were crying, and we wept too”, he said.

An Afghan treated at Sharan hospital on June 22, 2022 after a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan (AFP - Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN)
An Afghan treated at Sharan hospital on June 22, 2022 after a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan (AFP – Ahmad SAHEL ARMAN)

The most seriously affected people were sent to hospitals in the cities of Garde and Ghazni, equipped with operating theatres.

“Our country is poor and lacks resources. It’s a humanitarian crisis. It’s like a tsunami. You can’t describe how it is, but it’s really a difficult situation,” concludes the doctor.

In front of the hospital, a hundred men are waiting. “They came to donate blood. About 300 have already donated since this morning,” said a Taliban.

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