KABUL: A powerful earthquake struck a rugged, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing at least 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more in the country’s deadliest quake in two decades. Officials warned that the already grim toll may still rise.
Admitting it was “difficult” for the government to mount rescue and rehabilitation efforts, the Taliban sought help from the international community and humanitarian organisations, most of which left the country with the western pullout last year.
The 6.1 magnitude quake, which struck at a depth of 10km, had its epicenter in Paktika province, some 44km southwest of the city of Khost. The European seismological agency said the tremors were felt over 500km by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Footage from Paktika from news agency Bakhtar showed men carrying people in blankets to a waiting helicopter. Others were treated on the ground. One resident could be seen receiving IV fluids while sitting in a plastic chair outside the rubble of his home and still more were sprawled on gurneys. “People are digging grave after grave,” said Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the information and culture department in hard-hit Paktika, adding that at least 1,000 people have died in that province alone.

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