Afghanistan earthquake death toll rises to at least 950; over 610 injured
Agencies | Kabul
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing at least 950 people, authorities said.
The state-run Bakhtar News Agency also said that at least 610 have been injured in the disaster. It also said 216 people were killed and more than 300 were injured in the Gyan district of the Paktika province alone.
Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6 quake that struck Paktika province, but it comes as the international community largely has left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last year amid the chaotic withdrawal of the US military from the longest war in its history.
That likely will complicate any relief efforts for this country of 38 million people.
Bakhtar News Agency said rescuers were arriving by helicopter. The news agency’s director-general, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on Twitter that 90 houses have been destroyed in Paktika and dozens of people are 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.
Bakhtar posted footage of a resident receiving IV fluids from a plastic chair outside the rubble of his home and others sprawled on gurneys.
“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’s tremors were felt over 500 kilometres (310 miles) by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Mountainous Afghanistan and the larger region of South Asia, where the Indian tectonic plate collides with the Eurasian plate to the north, has long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes.
In 2015, a major earthquake that struck the country’s northeast killed over 200 people in Afghanistan and neighbouring northern Pakistan.