Kabul: A 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook densely populated Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan early Wednesday, Afghan officials said in the country’s east, killing at least 920 people and injuring 610, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. Have become.
According to the USGS, the quake occurred at a depth of 51 km, about 44 km (27 mi) from the city of Khost in southeastern Afghanistan.
Mohammad Nasim Haqqani, the head of the Taliban administration’s disaster management authority, said they would provide more updates after completing further investigations.
“As per our preliminary information, there have been casualties and damage in the earthquake, we are investigating,” he said.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said in a tweet that about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India felt the tremors for more than 500 km.
According to eyewitness accounts posted on the EMSC website and Twitter, it was felt in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, as well as Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
“Strong and long tremors,” posted a witness from Kabul on EMSC. “It was strong,” said another witness posted from Peshawar in northwest Pakistan.
“It was strong,” said a resident of the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar.
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.
The disaster comes as Afghanistan faces a severe economic crisis since the Taliban came to power in August, as US-led international forces retreated 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.