A powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday killed at least 1,000 people and injured 600, according to Afghan officials.
Media reports citing local sources said that some 255 people lost their lives in Barmal, Ziruk, Naka and Gayan districts in Paktika province. The eastern province of Paktika has been the hardest hit.
Helicopters and rescue teams are currently involved in rescue operations. In Paktika’s neighboring Khost province, at least 25 people were killed and 95 others wounded, media reports said.
The quake, with a magnitude of 6.1, occurred 44 km southwest of Khost, according to the US Geological Survey.
The quake has damaged dozens houses in the region and also caused land sliding in Paktika, local sources told media.
“People are digging grave after grave,” said Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika.
The official told media that rain had worsened the situation and that houses were destroyed with people being trapped under the rubble.
The death toll from the earthquake witnessed a steady climb as news of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach mountainous areas.
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned that deaths would likely rise further.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stated that he was deeply grieved to learn about the earthquake. He added that people in Pakistan shared the grief and sorrow of their Afghan “brethren”.
The premier has directed that urgent emergency supplies, including food, camps, blankets and other essential items, be sent to victims of the earthquake victims, according to a statement by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb.
The information minister said that relief goods were being dispatched immediately to Afghanistan.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), on the instructions of the prime minister, has arranged relief goods in collaboration with other stakeholders.
Moreover, the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement that chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee and services chiefs had expressed the deepest condolences “over the tragic loss of precious lives and damage to infrastructure”.
The statement added that armed forces of Pakistan were ready to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan.