WASHINGTON, June 28 — The United States will provide nearly US$55 million (RM241.8 million) in immediate aid for Afghanistan in response to an earthquake that last week struck a remote southeastern region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced today.

At least 1,000 people died, more than 3,000 others were injured and 10,000 homes destroyed by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the area near the country's border with Pakistan on June 22.

The new US assistance will be used to supply relief to people impacted by the disaster in the form of cooking ware, jerry cans for water, blankets, clothing and other items, including hygienic supplies to prevent a waterborne disease outbreak, Blinken said in a statement.

The earthquake, he said, "intensified the ongoing humanitarian crisis the Afghan people have endured for too long."

The new aid brings to more than US$774 million the amount of US humanitarian assistance provided for Afghanistan since last year, when the Taliban seized power as the last US-led troops withdrew after 20 years of war with the hardline Islamists.

The pullout and cutoffs by the United States and other funders of direct assistance on which the impoverished nation depended worsened financial and humanitarian crises that have seen the economy collapse and millions endure food shortages.

Since the earthquake, aftershocks have hit the stricken region, leaving partially damaged homes uninhabitable and the area unsafe for survivors, according to a senior Afghan official. — Reuters