Afghanistan quake kills at least 280

Afghanistan quake kills at least 280

KABUL: At least 280 people have been killed and hundreds more injured after a powerful earthquake hit southeastern Afghanistan overnight, according to the country’s state-run news agency.

 

The casualties are from “four districts of Paktika province that was hit by a powerful earthquake,” Bilal Karimi, a spokesman for the country’s Taliban government said over the phone, adding that casualties and damage were also reported in nearby Khost and Nangahar provinces that both border Pakistan.

Karimi urged international aid agencies to help rescue those still trapped in the rubble and ruined homes after the 6.1 magnitude temblor hit at about 2.30am Wednesday.

"We call on aid agencies to provide immediate relief to the victims of the earthquake to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe," Karimi tweeted after the quake hit several areas bordering Pakistan during the night.

Bakhtar News Agency reported on Twitter that at least 600 people had been reported injured so far, citing unnamed local government officials. The death toll is expected to rise, it reported.

The majority of confirmed deaths were in the province of Paktika, confirmed Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, the head of the Taliban administration's disaster management authority.

Deaths were also reported in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Khost, he added, as authorities check for further casualties.

Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika, told AFP the toll is expected to rise.

Government officials said they would soon release details of casualties and damage caused by the quake.

Photographs posted on social media showed several heavily damaged mud houses in remote rural areas.

The epicentre of the earthquake was about 44 kilometres (27 miles) from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border, at a depth of 51 kilometres, the United States Geological Survey said.

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.

People take a walk on a hillside overlooking Kabul on Feb 22, 2020. (Photo: AFP)


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