According to local authorities, at least 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 more were injured by an earthquake in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday morning. However, details are still scarce.
Officials stated that the death toll will rise as the earthquake is now the deadliest temblor in two decades.
Just 10 months after the chaos of U.S. withdrawal, most international communities left the region, and last summer’s Taliban takeover took place, the Paktika province was hit by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. This complicates efforts of relief for the nation’s 38 million people.
Sharafuddin Mushtaq, an Afghan emergency official, gave the death toll. Wednesday’s earthquake was the most severe since 2002 when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed approximately 1,000 Afghans in northern Afghanistan. This occurred immediately after the U.S.-led attempts to overthrow the Taliban government.
The state media reported that helicopters were bringing rescuers to the area earlier in the day. According to reports, hundreds of homes in Paktika were destroyed by the earthquake, and many people were trapped beneath the rubble. Khost province also suffered damage to buildings.
The incident was captured on video, with victims being taken into helicopters for airlift from the area. Online photos showed demolished stone homes and residents digging through clay bricks, rubble, and other debris.
On Twitter, Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesperson for the Taliban government wrote that a severe earthquake had struck four districts in Paktika province. It killed and injured hundreds of our countrymen as well as destroyed dozens upon houses. We urge all aid agencies and humanitarian organizations to immediately send teams to the affected area to stop further disasters.
Mohammad Hassan Akhund, Afghan Prime Minister, called an emergency meeting at Presidential Palace to coordinate relief efforts for victims of Paktika or Khost.
Ramiz Alakbarov (UN resident coordinator for Afghanistan), wrote on Twitter that the U.N. was “responding”.
The Meteorological Department of Pakistan, a neighbor, reported a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. There were tremors in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and in other parts of the eastern Punjab province.
In a statement, Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, stated that his country will assist the Afghan people.
Taimoor Khan, a spokesperson for disaster management in the region, stated that some homes in remote areas of Pakistan suffered damage near the border with Afghanistan. However, it wasn’t immediately clear if this was due to rain or an earthquake.
According to the European seismological organization EMSC, the earthquake’s tremors could be felt for over 310 miles by 119 million people in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.