A 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least 920 people in Afghanistan early on Wednesday, with Afghan authorities saying at least 610 others had been injured in the tremors.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck about 44km from Khost, near the Pakistani border and was the deadliest to hit the region since 2002. Tremors were also reported from various parts of Pakistan, but no casualties or damages have been reported.
Photographs and videos shared on social media show houses reduced to rubble, with authorities warning that the death toll was expected to rise as some of the affected villages are in remote, mountainous areas that have yet to provide details of the quake’s impact on them.
Adding to the misery of Afghans has been flooding in many regions over the past week, with the national disaster agency saying at least 11 people had been killed and 50 others injured following torrential rains. Several stretches of highway have also been blocked, making rescue operations more difficult. Afghan media reported that helicopters had been deployed for rescue efforts.
Afghanistan is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis provoked by the imposition of sanctions following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021. However, humanitarian aid has continued and the U.N.’s office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told the Reuters news agency that it is dispatching teams to Afghanistan to help with rescue efforts in quake-hit area.
Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the ruling Taliban, offered his condolences in a statement. In Pakistan, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the Foreign Ministry issued statements offering condolence for the loss of lives and pledging assistance “in this time of need.”
“The people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with their Afghan brethren in this difficult time. We have no doubt that the brotherly Afghan people will overcome the effects of this natural calamity with their characteristic resilience,” read the statement issued by the Foreign Office.