South Asia earthquake death toll reaches 360, expected to rise amid freezing temperatures
Pakistani residents gather next to rubble of earthquake-damaged houses in Lower Dir on October 27, 2015. (AFP/Ehsan Ullah)
An earthquake that killed at least 360 people inAfghanistan and Pakistan could claim many more lives as the homeless are threatened by near-freezing temperatures, aid workers warn.
In Afghanistan, more than 7,600 homes were destroyed by Monday's 7.5-magnitude earthquake. In Pakistan, more than 4,000 homes were destroyed and at least 5,000 people were homeless in the Kalash Valley, where charities are unable to travel through to render aid.
The United Nations Children's Fund said children are "facing further deadly threats as extreme conditions and insecurity cut off communities from aid."
"Heavy rain and snow have been pounding the remote, mountainous areas affected by the earthquake for the past two days," UNICEF said in a statement. "Communication is poor and access difficult due to the tough terrain and security operations."
The earthquake struck northeast Afghanistan and shook the south Asia region, triggering dozens of landslides and increasing the difficulty of gaining access to remote areas.
The quake triggered nerve-wracking tremors, with at least three aftershocks measuring up to magnitudes of 4.8 nearly 125 miles west-northwest of the epicenter.
The earthquake was centered deep inside the Earth's crust -- about 130 miles below the surface. The shaking could be felt in Pakistan, India and Tajikistan.
The region has a history of powerful earthquakes due to the Indian subcontinent drifting into and under the Eurasian landmass, resulting in frequent tectonic activity.
The death toll is expected to climb as medical aid and supplies for victims have been cut off due to inaccessible roads.
"We are extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of children, who are already the most at risk in any disaster and are now in danger of succumbing to the elements as temperatures plummet," Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, said in a statement.
By Andrew V. Pestano