Afghan earthquake: 280 killed Paktika province worst-hit, tremors felt in Pak

Afghan earthquake
Afghan earthquake

Afghan earthquake: The state-run Bakhtar news agency elaborated and said rescue teams were arriving by helicopter.

At least 280 people were killed in a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan early Wednesday, officials said, adding that hundreds were injured and the death toll was likely to rise as reports came from remote mountainous villages.

The US Geological Survey (USGC) said the quake was about 44 km (27 mi) from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border.

“Strong and long tremors,” a resident of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, posted on the website of the European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC).

“It was strong,” said a resident of the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Afghan earthquake

Images on Afghan media showed houses turned to rubble and bodies covered in blankets on the ground. The EMSC placed the magnitude 6.1, although the USGC said it was 5.9. Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said most of the deaths were confirmed in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 were injured.

He said 25 people were killed in Khost province and 90 were taken to hospital.

“The death toll is likely to rise as some villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect the details,” he said.

He said officials have launched a rescue operation and helicopters were being used to reach the injured and collect medical supplies and food.

The EMSC said on Twitter that about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India felt the tremors. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan. The disaster comes as Afghanistan faces a severe economic crisis since the Taliban came to power in August, as US-led international forces retreat after two decades of war.

In response to the Taliban takeover, several governments have imposed sanctions on Afghanistan’s banking sector and cut billions of dollars in development aid. Humanitarian aid continues and international agencies such as the United Nations operate in the country. A spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry said they would welcome help from any international organisation.

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 far Afghan northeast, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and adjacent northern Pakistan.