Survivors of Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake in more than two decades have been left without food, water or shelter, waiting for help in devastated remote villages.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Wednesday in the harsh eastern provinces, killing at least 1,000 people and destroying or damaging nearly 10,000 homes, collapsed mobile phone towers and power lines, and triggered rockfalls and landslides that blocked the mountain roads.

Aid began arriving in some of the affected areas on Thursday after initial difficulties reaching the affected provinces.

Ali Latifi of Al Jazeera, reporting from Gardez in the eastern province of Paktia, said: “While helicopters have played an important role in bringing in the wounded and providing relief, they are not enough.”

Mawlawi Khalid, commander of the Taliban’s 203rd Mansouri Army Corps, told Al Jazeera that all helicopters were flown in from Kandahar and Kabul. “Of course, we still need much more, there is still not enough,” he said.

Yaqub Khan, a resident of the hard-hit Paktika province, told Al Jazeera that all buildings, including the local mosque, were razed to the ground. “There is nothing left here, only the wounded,” he said.

Authorities say about 2,000 people were injured in the quake.

Ali Khan, a resident of the Gayan district in Paktika, told Al Jazeera that the ground started shaking at around 1:30 am local time. “My family — 10 people, including children — died,” he said.

Khan said it was impossible to find medical help for his surviving relatives. “There is a private clinic, but it’s 30 minutes away. There is no state hospital,” he said.

In some of the hardest-hit areas, survivors said they even struggled to find equipment to bury their dead and lacked the most basic food.

“No blankets, no tents, no shelter. Our entire water supply system is destroyed. There is literally nothing to eat there,” Zaitullah Gurzival, 21, told the AFP news agency in his village in Paktika province.

The rescue operations are a major test for the Taliban, who came to power after the withdrawal of US-led international forces in August after two decades of war.

The Taliban Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that 90 percent of search and rescue operations had been completed.

Emergency Ministry spokesman Mohammad Nassim Haqqani told the Reuters news agency on Friday that “the search operation has been completed.” He did not elaborate on why the search for survivors was abandoned after about 48 hours. Survivors are recovered from the rubble of other earthquakes after much longer time.

Two retired officers in Nepal involved in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake that killed 9,000 people expressed their surprise to Reuters that rescue operations could be close to completion so soon, but noted that if most of the damaged houses were small, it would be possible.

The Taliban government has repeatedly called for international aid, despite the fact that the country has been cut off from much foreign aid due to sanctions.

“We call on the disaster relief agencies and the international community to provide immediate and comprehensive assistance to the Afghan people,” Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Kahar Balkhi tweeted.

According to the United Nations, its UNHCR refugee agency sent tents, blankets and plastic sheeting; The World Food Program has delivered food to about 14,000 people in Paktika province, and the World Health Organization has provided 10 tons of medical supplies, enough for 5,400 surgeries.

However, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council Thursday that the Taliban are resisting recent UN efforts to help bring humanitarian funding into the country and are interfering with the delivery of aid.

“The official banking system continues to block transfers due to excessive risk reduction, which affects payment channels and causes supply chain disruptions,” Griffiths told the Security Council.

The UN is trying to launch a system known as the Humanitarian Exchange Fund (HEF) to exchange millions of dollars of aid for Afghan currency as part of a plan to stave off aid and economic crises and bypass Taliban leaders who are under sanctions.

Griffiths said the Taliban authorities are also increasingly blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid, despite UN officials promising not to do so in September.

“National and local governments are increasingly looking to play a role in choosing beneficiaries and channeling aid to people on their own priority lists, citing a near-universal level of need,” he said.

The devastating earthquake exacerbated a number of emergencies facing Afghanistan, including the worst drought in 30 years and massive poverty.

The country also has the highest number of people in the world at risk of starvation.

The United Nations Humanitarian Office (OCHA) on Thursday said preparations were underway to avoid a post-quake cholera outbreak as half a million cases of acute watery diarrhea have already been reported.

“Earthquake cholera outbreaks are of particular and serious concern,” OCHA said in a statement Thursday. “Preparations to prevent the outbreak continue.”

OCHA also said it was keen to confirm that search and rescue operations were nearly complete.

Save the Children said more than 118,000 children were affected by the disaster.

“Many children now are likely to be deprived of clean drinking water, food and a safe place to sleep,” the international charity said.

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