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Afghanistan rocked by magnitude-6.1 earthquake, leaving 1,000 dead, according to Taliban officials

ABC NEWS logo ABC NEWS 5 days ago By Shadi Khan Saif and wires

At least 1,000 people have been killed by a magnitude-6.1 earthquake in Afghanistan's east, according to Taliban officials, and the death toll is expected to grow as information trickles in from remote villages.

A further 1,500 people are reported to be injured by the quake.

With teams being dispatched to quake-hit areas, Afghan officials have asked humanitarian agencies to help with the rescue effort.

A Taliban spokesman of Afghanistan's foreign ministry said it would welcome international help.

Neighbouring Pakistan and Iran said they were sending humanitarian aid, including food and medicine.

Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said the death toll was likely to rise "as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details".

Most of the confirmed deaths were in Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Mr Ayubi said.

In the eastern province of Khost, 25 people were reported dead and 90 had been taken to hospital. Deaths were also reported in the Nangarhar province, he added.

Authorities are searching for more casualties.

The earthquake was felt over some 500 kilometres by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said in a tweet.

Rescue operations underway

Eyewitnesses told the ABC the earthquake hit late at night when people were asleep in the war-ravaged country.

Ruh Ullah, a Kabul-based tailor from Paktika province, said he was traumatised by the quake.

"Ever since I have heard of the devastation back home, I am crying, the mobile phone connections are not properly working and no-one is telling me if my extended family members are alive or not," he said.

His native Barmal district was one of the worst-hit areas of south-east Afghanistan.

Firdaus Khan, a resident of Sharana, the provincial capital of Paktika province, told the ABC the only public hospital in the province of nearly a million inhabitants, had been overwhelmed by earthquake victims.

"Most of the victims are women and children because they were caught asleep by the calamity … there is absolute shortage of resources, doctors and all other things needed," he said.

"People don't know what to do."

The state-owned Bakhtar news agency said rescue operations had been launched to minimise likely further deaths and loss of property.

Taliban authorities, which have received no international recognition since taking power in Kabul in August 2021, reported losses in the entire south-eastern region, which comprises the Paktika, Paktia, Logar, Khost and Logar provinces.

Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the ruling Taliban, offered his condolences in a statement.

In response to the Taliban takeover, many governments have imposed sanctions on Afghanistan's banking sector and cut billions of dollars worth of development aid.

Humanitarian aid has continued, however, and international agencies including the United Nations operate within the country.

The United Nations said it was deploying medical health teams and providing medical supplies but that it did not have search and rescue capabilities in Afghanistan.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations was fully mobilised, assessing the needs and providing initial support.

"We count on the international community to help support the hundreds of families hit by this latest disaster. Now is the time for solidarity," he said in a statement.

Large parts of south Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate, known as the Indian plate, is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

In 2015, an earthquake struck the remote Afghan north-east, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.

ABC/wires


Video: At least 1000 people killed after Afghanistan earthquake (9News.com.au)

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