Over a thousand people have been killed and more than 1,500 injured after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake in southeastern Afghanistan.
According to the US Geological Survey, the quake struck about 27 miles (44km) from the city of Khost, close to the country’s border with Pakistan, and was at a depth of 31.6 miles (51km).
The numbers of those killed and injured were reported by the country’s state-run Bakhtar News Agency.
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.”
“People are digging grave after grave,” said, the head of the Information and Culture Department in hard-hit Paktika, adding that at least 1,000 people had died in that province alone.
“It is raining also, and all houses are destroyed. People are still trapped under the rubble.”
The death toll climbed steadily all day as news of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach areas in the mountains, and the country’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned it would likely rise further.
Earlier, a tribal leader from Paktika said survivors and rescuers were scrambling to help those affected.
Yaqub Manzor told reporters, “The local markets are closed and all the people have rushed to the affected areas,”.
Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan’s emergency response teams were stretched to deal with the natural disasters that frequently struck the country.
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Scores of people were killed and injured in January when two quakes struck rural areas in the western province of Badghis, damaging hundreds of buildings.