Helicopters shipped in tons of building supplies and evacuated more injured from northern Afghanistan Tuesday, trying to aid villages ripped apart by an earthquake that killed as many as 5,000 people.
The death toll has been climbing steadily since the 6.9-magnitude quake struck Saturday, triggering landslides that split mountains and swallowed entire villages.Most of the remote region's 70,000 people have been left homeless, their mud-brick homes crumbled to dust by the quake and repeated aftershocks.
Many mountain roads have been blocked by landslides, forcing aid workers to rely on helicopters to ferry in supplies and bring the most seriously injured to regional hospitals.
"We call upon everyone and anyone who can provide us with helicopters to do so now," said Alfredo Witschi-Cestari, U.N. coordinator for aid to Afghanistan. "The problem at the moment is not supplies, it's transport."
The United Nations also is appealing for fuel, he said.
Thousands of people were still missing as aid workers struggled to reach the region. As many as 60,000 people were in need of shelter, said Juan Fuertes Guillen, a Red Cross spokesman.
Mobile medical units were set up in Shari Basurkh, 30 miles from Faisabad, the capital of northern Badakhshan province. Two tons of high protein biscuits, flour and oil were delivered on Red Cross helicopters to quake victims in Shari Basurkh Tuesday.
Up to 80 villages were estimated to be heavily damaged by the earth-quake, and another dozen obliterated.