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An earthquake in eastern Afghanistan killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 others Wednesday morning, according to local authorities, although details of the incident remain limited.
Officials said the death toll is expected to rise further as the quake became the deadliest earthquake in the past two decades.
The 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Paktika province in the country, just 10 months after the chaotic US withdrawal and the departure of most of the international community from the region following the Taliban’s takeover of power last summer. which complicates efforts to offer relief to the nation’s 38 million people.
The death toll was reported by the Afghan emergency official Sharafuddin Muslim. Wednesday’s earthquake was the deadliest since 2002, when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed around 1,000 people in northern Afghanistan in the wake of US-led efforts to overthrow the Taliban government following the 11th attacks. September.
State media reported in the morning that rescuers were coming to providence on helicopters. It was also reported that the earthquake destroyed hundreds of homes in Paktika and that dozens of people were reportedly trapped under the rubble. Buildings were also damaged in Khost province.
The video showed the victims of the accident being transported by helicopters to be flown from the region. Photos circulating online from the area revealed demolished stone houses and residents collecting clay bricks and other rubble.
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“A strong earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our compatriots and destroying dozens of homes,” Taliban deputy government spokesman Bilal Karimi wrote on Twitter. “We urge all humanitarian agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further disasters.”
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Afghan Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund has called an emergency meeting at the presidential palace to coordinate relief efforts for the victims in Paktika and Khost.
The UN coordinator living in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, wrote on Twitter that “the answer is coming”.
Pakistan’s neighboring Meteorological Department reported a 6.1 magnitude earthquake. Tremors could be felt in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern province of Punjab.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a statement that his country will provide assistance to the Afghan people.
Taimoor Khan, a spokesman for disaster management in the area, said some remote areas of Pakistan suffered damage to homes near the border with Afghanistan, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether this was due to rain or the earthquake.
According to the European seismological agency EMSC, the tremors of the earthquake were felt for more than 310 miles by 119 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.