Pakistan, Afghanistan Assess Damage from Deadly Earthquake
Rescuers are working to reach remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan rocked by Monday's 7.5 magnitude earthquake that has killed more than 360 people and injured more than 2,200 others in both countries.
The quake struck northern Afghanistan's sparsely populated Badakhshan province, but the toll is the worst in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where officials have confirmed at least 202 people killed and more than 1,486 injured.
While traveling through some of the badly-hit areas Tuesday, VOA witnessed military-led rescue teams busy evacuating injured people and bringing emergency aid to victims in remote mountainous districts.
In Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani tweeted Tuesday that the death toll in his country had risen to 115 killed with 538 others injured in nine provinces. The deaths in Afghanistan include 12 schoolgirls who were killed in a stampede as they rushed out of shaking buildings in Takhar province.
Aid officials say getting assistance to all of the quake stricken areas will take time
"Security is a problem overall. When you want to deliver assistance or deploy teams in an insecure area you have to make sure you establish contacts with armed groups, make sure that there is not land mines or military operations on the ground. We’re trying. Right now, in some areas, we are operating in unsecure areas," he told VOA.
The Taliban issued a statement urging aid agencies to "not hold back" in their work and ordering the group's fighters to "lend their complete help" to victims.
US Concedes It's Struggling to Defeat Islamic State Insurgents
The United States says it is stepping up airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, as top U.S. military leaders acknowledged to lawmakers Tuesday that the U.S is struggling to combat the insurgent group.
"No one is satisfied with our progress to date," Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a hearing on the American military strategy in the Middle East.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee he was "disappointed" in the failure of a $500 million U.S. effort to train moderate rebel forces in Syria to fight against the Islamic State. The United States abandoned the program earlier this month after only a few soldiers had been trained.
In response, Carter said the United States has intensified its aerial campaign against the Islamic State in hopes of shrinking its hold on Raqqa in northern Syria, the headquarters of its operations.