UPDATE 1-UN agencies hurry relief to Afghanistan as earthquake toll seen rising

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LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) – United Nations agencies have rushed to send tons of relief items to Afghanistan where an earthquake struck in a remote mountainous area this week, killing 1,036 people and with the toll expected to rise, officials said on Friday.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has sent shelter and household supplies including 600 tents and 1,200 solar lamps to support around 4,200 survivors, spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told a briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR has deployed staff who will arrange shelters for people who have been left homeless and set up supply hubs to ferry aid from the capital Kabul, she said, adding there was also a serious risk of waterborne diseases.

Several thousand homes were destroyed or damaged by the quake, Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF Representative to Afghanistan, told the same briefing.

“Children and adolescents are extremely vulnerable and at high-risk of family separation, emotional and psychological distress, abuse and exploitation, and other forms of violence,” he said.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the border with Pakistan.

Poor communications and a lack of proper roads are hampering relief efforts in a country already grappling with a humanitarian crisis which has deteriorated since the Taliban took over last August. Authorities have ended the search for survivors. (Reporting by Matthias Williams;)

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