At least 920 dead and hundreds injured in a strong earthquake in Afghanistan

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province early Wednesday, killing at least 920 people and injuring at least 600, the state-run Bakhtar news agency reported.

“So far the information we have is that at least 920 people have been martyred and 600 injured,” Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy minister for disaster management, told a news conference.

The first official report spoke of “more than 100” fatalities, although the number did not take long to rise. Authorities said many houses were damaged and people were trapped inside.

Local authorities have warned that the death toll could increase in the coming hours due to the large number of injured and the seriousness of the condition of some of them.

“We ask aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to earthquake victims to avoid a humanitarian disaster,” deputy government spokesman Bilal Karimi urged on Twitter, assuring that numerous houses were destroyed and that there were people trapped inside.

“The answer is on the way,” assured the United Nations coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, on Twitter.

According to information collected by the Afghan state news agency Bakhtar News Agency, some 600 people have been injured in the districts of Barmala, Ziruk, Naka and Gayan, all of them located in the province of Paktika, the most affected.

The earthquake had its epicenter about 44 kilometers from the city of Khost near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a depth of about 51 kilometers, according to data published on its website by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

β€œIt was midnight when the earthquake hit. The children and I screamed. One of our rooms was destroyed,” said a local resident named Fatima. Another resident, Faisal, said he had been sent to a hospital and saw “a lot of dead bodies.”

Footage provided by the state-run Bakhtar news agency also showed crowds running towards a helicopter after it landed. An Interior Ministry official had said the aircraft were being used to reach the wounded and bring in medical supplies and food.

The Pakistani media also reported that a minor earthquake shook the capital, Islamabad, and other parts of the country, without the Pakistani authorities having yet ruled on possible victims on their territory. “The number of deaths is expected to rise,” the agency noted.

Images shared on social networks show numerous houses destroyed, and the Taliban government has already begun rescue efforts by sending aid, helicopters and medical supplies.

Mountainous Afghanistan and the region of South Asia that lies at the foot of the Hindu Kush, where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, have long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes.

In the middle of last January, another 5.3-magnitude earthquake shook northwestern Afghanistan, killing at least 26 people, according to UN data, and destroying 800 homes, mostly flimsy adobe houses, in different districts of the province. of Badghis.

Also in October 2015, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake with an epicenter in the extreme northeast of the country left more than a hundred dead in Afghanistan and almost 300 dead in neighboring Pakistan, where more than 2,000 were also injured.

Since the Taliban came to power in August, Afghanistan has been going through a serious financial and humanitarian crisis, caused by the blockade of millions of assets abroad and the suspension of international aid, which had sustained the country for two decades and which now It arrives in drops.

Aid agencies and the UN keep repeating that the country needs billions of dollars this year to survive the crisis

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