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Massive fire engulfs Balkh straw market

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(Last Updated On: October 5, 2021)

Three large straw markets, connected to each other, caught fire in northern Balkh province on Tuesday, resulting in huge financial losses to the stall owners.

According to sources, the fire broke out at about 1am on Tuesday morning, and destroyed a number of vehicles along with at least 100 stalls that sold straw and wood.

“Four or five vehicles, shops have been burnt,” said Abul Khaliq, an affected shopkeeper.

Mahmood, another affected shopkeeper said: “Thirty to 40 shops were burned in each market. There are three markets [connected]; fire broke out in the first one and spread to the others.”

Firefighters battled for several hours to extinguish the blaze but managed to stop the fire from spreading to nearby residential areas.

“We extinguished the fire, as you have witnessed. We have saved two-thirds (of the market). If we did not reach it in time, the fire could have spread to residential areas, and fuel stations,“ a firefighter said.

So far, the cause of the fire is not clear but Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan officials said the incident is being investigated.

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Pakistan dispatches second consignment of earthquake relief

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday dispatched eight trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued by the Pakistan government, the consignment, arranged by the National Disaster Management Authority, has been handed over to Afghan authorities.

The consignment consists of family tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicines.

“Pakistan is committed to continue supply of relief goods to Afghan brethren,” the statement read.

This comes after Pakistan sent in earthquake aid on Wednesday, just hours after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan’s eastern provinces, killing over 1,000 people and destroying thousands of houses.

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Taiwan announces $1 million for Afghan earthquake relief efforts

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

Taiwan will donate $1 million to Afghan earthquake relief efforts in response to a call from the United Nations and others for humanitarian assistance, the government said late on Thursday.

Taiwan’s presidential office said in a statement that the government would donate “based on the spirit of humanitarian care for disaster relief regardless of national borders (and) responding to the United Nations and other humanitarian calls,” Reuters reported.

However Taiwan will not send search and rescue teams after consulting with other countries and considering the difficulty of transportation, office spokesman Xavier Chang added.

Taiwan also lies in a quake-prone zone and regularly sends rescue teams to other disaster areas around the world.

China meanwhile has said it stands ready to provide Afghanistan aid, and on Friday its foreign ministry said that it is “stepping up efforts” to collect cash, tents, bed quilts and other humanitarian aid to deliver to Afghanistan as soon as possible, but did not offer details of the size of the aid package.

Around 1,000 people are already confirmed dead from the quake in a remote part of the country this week.

Earlier, the European Union announced 1 million euros for the earthquake relief efforts in Afghanistan.

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India reopens embassy in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: June 25, 2022)

India reopened its embassy in Kabul on Thursday, more than 10 months after closing it following the takeover of the city by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA).

Indian media reported that New Delhi has sent a “technical team” of officials to be based in Kabul.

The move comes a few weeks after a team headed by senior Indian foreign ministry official J.P. Singh travelled to Kabul and met with IEA officials.

The Indian embassy will become the 15th mission to open in Kabul under the rule of IEA, along with Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, European Union and four Central Asian states.

“In order to closely monitor and coordinate the efforts of various stakeholders for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance and in continuation of our engagement with the Afghan people, an Indian technical team has reached Kabul today and has been deployed in our Embassy there,” Indian foreign ministry said in an announcement, citing India’s “historical and civilizational relationship with the Afghan people” as the reason for the decision.

IEA welcomed India’s move to reopen its embassy in Kabul.

Hafiz Zia Ahmad, deputy spokesman of IEA’s foreign ministry, called on India to continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghans.

India meanwhile has sent its first consignment of earthquake relief aid to Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 people have been killed by the disaster.

India’s foreign ministry said the assistance was handed over by the Indian team that travelled aboard an Indian Air Force Ilyushin-76 aircraft, in the first such military, non-commercial transportation since last year.

In a separate development, Afghan Interior Ministry called for Afghan military cadets trained in India and other countries to return to the country and serve their people.

“Afghan cadets trained in India and other countries are a source of our national strength,” the Interior Ministry said on Twitter. “The Interior Ministry of the Islamic Emirate is ready to recruit these graduates according to their education & profession. Hopefully, they will return to the country & serve their people.”

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