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Thousands left homeless in Afghanistan-Pakistan earthquake

The death toll from Monday's earthquake in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region has risen to at least 390 people. Rescue crews and disaster organizations have struggled to reach remote areas.

Rescuers and aid agencies are struggling to respond to this week's 7.5 magnitude earthquake hitting remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where mountainous terrain, damaged infrastructure and Taliban militants are slowing down relief efforts.

At least 267 people have been killed in Pakistan, the countries disaster management agency said on Wednesday. More than 10,000 homes and 147 schools have also been damaged or destroyed, officials said.

In Afghanistan, at least 115 people have died and more than 550 wounded, while more than 7,500 homes have been destroyed. Three people were also killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The death toll and damage to infrastructure is likely to expand as rescue crews and governments respond to far flung communities impacted by Monday's earthquake, centered in Afghanistan's Badakhshan province bordering Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.

The focus of relief operations is shifting to providing food, shelter and hygiene to the thousands left homeless as winter arrives to the mountainous region.

Pakistan's military is taking the lead in the remote north parts of the country, bringing in tents, food and in some cases evacuating people with helicopter. Pakistan's disaster management agency said it has distributed 15,519 tents, 25,700 blankets and tons of food.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended a briefing in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday, where he pledged the government would provide compensation of $2,000 (1,807 euros) to each person to rebuild their homes.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban's presence in Badakhshan has complicated relief efforts, despite the militant organization's urging aid agencies to come and offering them help. On Wednesday, the Taliban overran a district on Afghanistan's border with Tajikistan in Takhar province, which although not impacted by the earthquake, highlights the difficult security environment.

cw/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)

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