Earthquake kills at least 1,000 in Afghanistan
At least 1,000 people have been killed and more than 1,500 are injured after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Afghanistan early on Wednesday, Taliban authorities have said.
The figures were announced by the head of the information department in the Paktika province, which has been hit hardest by the disaster. The list of fatalities so far comes from just two districts of the province, the official noted.
Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Natural Disaster Management, Mawlavi Sharfuddin Muslim, earlier put the death toll at 920 with more than 600 injured as a result of the quake.
According to Taliban’s official news agency Bakhtar, the death toll will likely grow as rescuers continue to investigate the affected areas.
The epicenter was located some 44 km (27 miles) from the city of Khost in the southeast of the country at a depth of 51km (31 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) has said. The earthquake also affected parts of neighboring Pakistan.
Most of the fatalities and destruction have been reported in the province of Paktika, but there were also casualties in nearby Nangarhar and Khost provinces.
Images of the seismic event posted on social media have captured homes being reduced to rubble by the tremors.
“A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses,” Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesperson for the Taliban government, wrote on Twitter. “We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”
Shockwaves were felt by around 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) has said. Tremors were reported by witnesses in Afghan's capital Kabul as well as Pakistan's Islamabad.