At least 1,000 people have reportedly died and around 1,500 have been injured in an earthquake that shook eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday. According to reports, toll is expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages. The earthquake, said to be the deadliest in two decades, had a magnitude 6.1 on the Richter scale and tremors were also felt in Pakistan, the National Center for Seismology said.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre was about 44 km from Khost city in Afghanistan and was at a depth of 51 km. In Pakistan, tremors were felt in Islamabad and eastern Punjab province, the Guardian cited the country’s meteorological department as saying .
Afghanistan’s Bakhtar news agency said more than 1,000 people had succumbed to the injuries and over 1,500 others were injured in the incident parts of Paktika province.
The majority of deaths were confirmed in the Paktika province, where 100 people were killed and 250 injured, Reuters quoted Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, the head of the Taliban, as saying earlier in the morning. Some deaths were also reported in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Khost. Meanwhile, the state-run Bakhtar news agency said rescuers were arriving by helicopter.
Amid the chaos, several videos from Paktika province showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area. Images widely circulating online from the province showed destroyed stone houses, with residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble.
Meanwhile, Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesperson for the Taliban government, has urged agencies to send teams to “prevent further catastrophe”. Also, in a rare move, Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzadah pleaded with the international community and humanitarian organisations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort.”
Taliban’s appeal came at a time when the international community largely has left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last year amid the chaotic withdrawal of the US military from the longest war in its history.
(Edited by : Akriti Anand)
First Published: IST