Wednesday Jun 22, 2022
KABUL: An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 has killed 1000 people in Afghanistan early on Wednesday, officials said, adding that at least 610 of people were injured and the toll is likely to rise as information trickles in from remote mountain villages.
The quake struck about 44 km (27 miles) from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGC) said.
"Strong and long jolts," a resident of the Afghan capital, Kabul, posted on the website of the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).
"It was strong," said a resident of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
Photographs on Afghan media showed houses reduced to rubble, with bodies swathed in blankets lying on the ground.
"The number is increasing. People are digging grave after grave," Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika, said in a message to journalists, AFP reported.
Helicopters were deployed in the rescue effort to reach the injured and fly in medical supplies and food, said an interior ministry official, Salahuddin Ayubi.
"The death toll is likely to rise as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details."
Wednesday's quake was the deadliest since 2002. It struck about 44 km (27 miles) from the southeastern city of Khost, near the border with Pakistan, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGC) said.
Earlier, according to Reuters' reports, most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Ayubi added. In the province of Khost, 25 were dead and 90 had been taken to hospital.
Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the ruling Taliban, offered his condolences in a statement.
Mounting a rescue operation could prove a major test for the Taliban, who took over the country in August and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions.
Shaking was felt by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the EMSC said on Twitter, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan.
The EMSC put the earthquake's magnitude at 6.1, though the USGC said it was 5.9.
Adding to the challenge for Afghan authorities is recent flooding in many regions, which the disaster agency said had killed 11, injured 50 and blocked stretches of highway.
The disaster comes as Afghanistan grapples with a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took over, as US-led international forces withdrew following two decades of war.
In response to the Taliban takeover, many nations imposed sanctions on Afghanistan's banking sector and cut billions of dollars worth of development aid.
Humanitarian aid has continued, however, with international agencies, such as the United Nations, operating.
The UN's office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Afghanistan had asked humanitarian agencies to help with rescue efforts, and teams were being despatched to the quake-hit area.
A spokesman of Afghanistan's foreign ministry said it would welcome international help. Neighbouring Pakistan said it was working to extend assistance.
Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate. read more
In 2015, an earthquake struck the remote Afghan northeast, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.
In January, an earthquake struck western Afghanistan, killing more than 20 people.
Tremors were felt in some parts of Pakistan like Islamabad, Multan, Bhakkar, Phalia, Peshawar, Malakand, Swat, Mianwali, Pakpattan, and Buner, among other places.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Disaster Management Authority reported that a resident of Lakki Marwat was killed in the earthquake after the roof of his room collapsed.
Pakistan extends condolences over loss of life in earthquake in Afghanistan
The foreign ministry of Pakistan and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have expressed condolences over the lives lost in the earthquake.
The Prime Minister said that that "relevant authorities are working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry said in a statement that the government and people of Pakistan extend their "deepest condolences and sympathies over the loss of precious lives and damage to property caused by the tragic earthquake in Paktika province of Afghanistan."
"The people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with their Afghan brethren in this difficult time. We have no doubt that the brotherly Afghan people will overcome the effects of this natural calamity with their characteristic resilience," the statement read.
DG ISPR also took to Twitter and expressed their "deepest condolences over tragic loss of precious lives & damage to infrastructure."
"AFs of Pakistan are ready to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan," read the post.
—With additional input from AFP