Afghan families search morgues, hospitals after truck bomb

KABUL: It took nearly 24 hours for his family to discover Hamidullah’s broken body on the bottom shelf of a morgue at Kabul’s Wazir Akhbar Khan hospital.
Around him were placed the few personal belongings he had with him when he died.
“He was engaged and was about to get married,” his cousin Abdullah said, grief clouding his eyes as he stood in the barren morgue.” All of his and his family’s dreams remained unfinished.”
Twenty-year-old Hamidullah was on his way to his print shop in Afghanistan’s capital city early on Wednesday morning when he was killed by a massive truck bomb that exploded in the middle of a busy street, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 450.
While the intended target of the bomb remains unknown, the explosion occurred near the gates of a heavily fortified area of the city that holds many foreign embassies and government ministries.
Many of the victims, however, were working class Afghans, people who had managed to eke out livelihoods during years of violence and economic malaise.
For Hamidullah’s family, the first indication something was wrong was the sound of a powerful explosion, followed by an expanding cloud of smoke rising over the city.
Calls to his cellphone went unanswered, and a growing number of extended family members joined huge crowds at hospitals around the city, all seeking news of friends and family caught in the attack.
“We went to several hospitals to find him,” said Abdullah.
The hospital in Wazir Akhbar Khan was one of several inundated with the wounded, and later, the bodies.
“I have never experienced such a day in all my life,” said one morgue attendant who asked for anonymity as he was not authorised to speak publicly. “All the freezers were full, and the dead bodies lined the road to the morgue as well.”
As of Thursday, as Hamidullah’s family gathered in small groups under the trees outside the morgue to wait for his father’s arrival, there were still a dozen unidentified bodies at the hospital, officials said.
Among those, around half are unrecognisable, the attendant added.
Due to a lack of space, bodies had to be laid out on the ground and 20 were sent to a nearby military hospital.
Among the victims were employees of Afghan and international media, a major telecommunications company and a bank as well as police officers and security guards.
Kabul’s Emergency Hospital received at least 108 victims of Wednesday’s attack, said Sakhi Shafiq, a team leader there.
From their hospital beds, survivors described the scenes of horror they had lived through. — Reuters