Earthquake kills at least 255 people in eastern Afghanistan

Kabul: Afghanistan’s state-run news agency says at least 255 people have killed in an earthquake that struck the country’s eastern Paktika province.

The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll on Wednesday and said rescuers were arriving by helicopter. The Interior Ministry confirmed the toll and said hundreds of people were injured.

Information remains scarce on the magnitude 6 quake that struck Paktika province. The international community has largely left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country of 38 million people last year amid the chaotic withdrawal of the US military from the longest war in its history. That likely will complicate any relief efforts.

A damaged house after an earthquake in Badghis, Afghanistan, earlier this year.Credit:AP

The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll and said rescuers were arriving by helicopter. The news agency’s director-general, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on Twitter that 90 houses had been destroyed in Paktika and dozens of people were believed trapped under the rubble.

Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistan border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area. Images widely circulating online from the province showed destroyed stone houses, with residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble.

“A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses,” Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, separately wrote on Twitter. “We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

Neighbouring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department put the earthquake at a magnitude 6.1. Tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern Punjab province.

The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake was felt more than 500 kilometres by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.


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