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Relief Agencies Rush Aid to Afghan Earthquake Victims

United Nations relief agencies are rushing aid to victims of Sunday's earthquake in Afghanistan. Agency officials say flash flooding and landslides triggered by the earthquake have left many people in need of aid.

Sunday's earthquake in northern Afghanistan has posed an additional challenge to already overburdened relief agencies.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organization for Migration describes the situation in Samangan province in northern Afghanistan as "absolutely incredible." He has said massive landslides triggered by the earthquake have blocked a river burying houses and people and the water is rising fast.

"No one really knows at the moment how lethal this earthquake has been because we are talking about very remote locations with very difficult access," Mr. Chauzy said. "Bear in mind that the earthquake has triggered landslides that have cut some of the access roads to the worst-affected villages. There is a lot of work at the moment to bring assistance - tents, blankets and other non-food items to those who have been affected by this earthquake."

The World Food Program says helicopters are transporting 22 tons of food to the area for distribution. WFP spokeswoman Christiane Bertiaume said if this assistance is not sufficient, food supplies will be flown in from neighboring Tajikistan.

"We have two C-130 planes that are on stand-by in Dushanbe with food, non-food, medicine, if those helicopters find that there is a huge need," she said.

Meanwhile, officials at the U.N. children's agency say that so many Afghan families are returning home that they may have to double - to around four million - the number of places available for schoolchildren.

UNICEF spokeswoman Wivina Belmonte said pupil registration begins throughout Afghanistan on Wednesday. "This is tremendous campaign in logistics. We have got people spreading the word on education wherever and however they can whether it is villages or from mosques using loudspeakers or megaphones. There are kids taking part in street theater that talks about education," Ms. Belmonte said.

UNICEF officials said the thirst for education is evident throughout Afghanistan. The biggest challenge they face is to let people know that registration is starting and schools will open on March 23.