Earthquake in Afghanistan kills at least 255

An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing at least 255 people, authorities said.

Information on the magnitude 6 quake that struck Paktika province remained sparse, but it comes as the international community warned Afghanistan after the country’s Taliban takeover last year amid the US military’s chaotic withdrawal from its longest-running war largely abandoned in its history.

That will likely complicate any relief efforts for this country of 38 million people.

The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll and said rescuers arrived 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 trapped under the rubble.

Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistani border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be flown out of the area. Images from the province circulating online showed destroyed stone houses with residents digging through mud bricks and other debris.

Bakhtar released footage of a resident receiving IV fluids from a plastic chair outside the rubble of his home and others stretched out on stretchers.

“A powerful earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our compatriots and destroying dozens of homes,” Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, wrote separately on Twitter. “We call on all aid organizations to send teams to the region immediately to prevent further disasters.”

In neighboring Khost province, authorities believed the quake also left dozens injured and dead, Rayan said.

The neighboring Pakistan Meteorological Office put the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.1. Tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital Islamabad and elsewhere in the eastern province of Punjab.

The European Seismological Agency EMSC said the earthquake’s shocks were felt across 310 miles by 119 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Mountainous Afghanistan and the greater region of South Asia along the Hindu Kush Mountains, where the Indian tectonic plate collides with the Eurasian plate to the north, has long been prone to devastating earthquakes. Poor construction of houses, hospitals and other buildings puts them at risk of collapsing during earthquakes, while landslides in the mountains of Afghanistan remain a daily occurrence.

In 2015, a powerful earthquake in the north-east of the country killed over 200 people in Afghanistan and neighboring northern Pakistan. A similar magnitude 6.1 earthquake in 2002 killed about 1,000 people in northern Afghanistan. And in 1998, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake and subsequent shaking in remote northeastern Afghanistan killed at least 4,500 people. Earthquake in Afghanistan kills at least 255


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