Listen to this article:
New Delhi: The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan on Wednesday hit 1,000, disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured and the toll expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages.
د #افغانستان له سوېل لوېدیځه د تېرې شپې زلزلې د تلفاتو خبرونه-تصویرونه راروان دي. الله دې رحم وکړي. شهیدانو ته جنت فردوس/ټپیانو ته عاجله شفا غواړو. #افغان ولس د #طالب د ګناهونو/وحشتونو سزا ګالي، کله د درنو بمونو، کله د جګړو/چاودنو او کله هم د وچکالۍ، سېلاب او زلزلې په چوکاټ کې. https://t.co/fuHdK8HqKw
— Kabir Haqmal (@Haqmal) June 22, 2022
Houses were reduced to rubble and bodies swathed in blankets lay on the ground, photographs on Afghan media showed
Helicopters were deployed in the rescue effort to reach the injured and fly in medical supplies and food, interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said.
“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,” he said.
Wednesday’s quake was the deadliest in Afghanistan 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.
Disaster management officials said at least 1,000 are dead and 600 injured. However, local officials put the number of injured higher.
“1,000 dead, 1,500 injured, and this number might go up, many families have been lost. Injured people have been taken to Kabul and Gardez,” Mohammad Amin Hozaifa, information and culture director of Paktika, told Reuters.
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.
The Afghanistan broadcaster TOLO news has tweeted that the quake struck late last night and that efforts were underway to rescue bodies from underneath the wreckage.
په پکتیکار کې د زلزلې پر مهال نږدې پنځوس کسان مړه او ټپیان شوي. د دې ولایت د ګیان ولسوالۍ امنیې قومندان وایي، دا زلزله تېره شپه ناوخته شوې چې پر مهال یې ګڼ شمېر کسانو ته تلفات اوښتي. #طلوعنیوز pic.twitter.com/r6MSigKKRH
— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) June 22, 2022
Deaths were also reported in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Khost, news agency Reuter reported, adding that authorities were checking for further casualties.
Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the ruling Taliban, offered his condolences in a statement. Mounting a rescue operation will prove a major test for the Taliban, who took over the country last 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 sent to the quake-hit area.
A foreign ministry spokesman said the Taliban 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.
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.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was deeply saddened by the news of the earthquake. “India stands by the people of Afghanistan in their difficult times and is ready to provide all possible disaster relief material at the earliest,” he tweeted.
Deeply saddened at the news of the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan today. My deepest condolences on loss of precious lives.
India stands by the people of Afghanistan in their difficult times and is ready to provide all possible disaster relief material at the earliest.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 22, 2022
(With Reuters inputs)
Note: This story is being updated as more information becomes available.