Earthquake in Afghanistan: death toll approaches 1000, villages destroyed

The death toll in Afghanistan after an earthquake early Wednesday is at least 920, with more than 600 injured, according to Reuters.

The earthquake struck shortly after 1:30 a.m. local time around 44 km from Khost in south-eastern Afghanistan. Most of the injured and dead slept at home. Hundreds of houses were destroyed and the death toll could rise, said Afghanistan’s Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.

Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister for Disaster Management, Sharafuddin Muslim, told a press conference that at least 920 people had been killed and another 600 injured.

The devastation caused by the earthquake includes villages that have been razed to the ground. According to the BBC, there have been landslides and destroyed mud houses in the eastern province of Paktika. “On every street you walk you hear people mourning the loss of their loved ones. Houses are destroyed,” a local journalist in Paktika province told the BBC.

Rescue operations are underway and the Taliban have called in aid organizations.

“A powerful earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our compatriots and destroying dozens of homes. We urge all aid agencies to immediately send teams to the region to prevent another disaster,” tweeted Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government.

The quake had a magnitude of 6.1, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Service, and tremors were also felt in neighboring Pakistan and India.

“My condolences and prayers go out to the government and people of Afghanistan for the loss of life suffered by the earthquake. I have asked the KP government to make it especially easy to provide any medical assistance,” tweeted Imran Khan, former Prime Minister of Pakistan whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party governs the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, or KP, province of Pakistan that borders Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is an earthquake-prone region with more than 7,000 people in the past decade, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Earthquake in Afghanistan: death toll approaches 1000, villages destroyed

Charles Jones

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