In a remote region of Afghanistan where an earthquake claimed the lives of around 1,000 people, help has begun to arrive, and Taliban leaders say the rescue mission is nearly complete.
Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesperson for the Taliban's top military commander in the hardest-hit region of Paktika, said Friday the rescue operation has been completed and no one is stuck under the wreckage.
On Wednesday morning, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, in dry foothills scattered with small communities near the Pakistani border.
In a country already coping with a humanitarian catastrophe that has worsened since the Taliban took power in August of last year, poor communications and a lack of decent roadways impede relief attempts.
The United Nations said Friday that the Taliban ministry of defense had indicated that 90 percent of search and rescue operations were complete.
Muawiyah stated that the earthquake killed approximately 1,000 people and injured 1,500. Over 3,000 structures were destroyed.
The death toll makes this the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in the past 20 years, according to U.S. official statistics.
Approximately 1,000 individuals had been rescued by Thursday morning. Sharafat Zaman, a health ministry official said. "Aid has arrived and is ongoing in the region, but more is required."
Ali Latifi, a journalist in Paktika province, told Al Jazeera that the situation on the ground was "terrible."
"When you're in these helicopters and flying over these districts, you'll notice that they're essentially snuggled in these mountains and hillsides that are all unpaved and rocky... mud dwellings," the journalist said.
The response to the accident is a big test for the Taliban, who have ruled Afghanistan since the withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces after two decades of conflict.
"Even the closest clinic to one of the neighborhoods we were in is 30 minutes away, and it's a private clinic that would be quite expensive for people to visit. And yet again, getting there is arduous," Latifi added.
Since the Taliban's takeover, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated drastically, according to relief officials, as the country has been cut off from much international help due to sanctions.
Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokeswoman for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reiterated requests for increased international assistance.