Afghanistan earthquake kills at least 1,000 but toll expected to rise

KABUL, June 22 (Reuters) – The death toll from the Afghanistan earthquake reached 1,000 on Wednesday, disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured and the toll expected to rise as more information comes in from remote mountain villages.

Homes were reduced to rubble and bodies wrapped in blankets lay on the ground, according to photographs released by Afghan media

Helicopters were deployed as part of the rescue efforts to reach the injured and transport medical supplies and food, said Interior Ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi.

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“The death toll is likely to increase as some villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details,” he said.

Wednesday’s quake was the deadliest in Afghanistan since 2002. It struck about 44 km (27 miles) from the southeastern town of Khost, near the border with Pakistan, the US said. Geological Survey (USGC).

Disaster management officials said at least 1,000 died and 600 injured. However, local authorities put the number of injured higher.

“1,000 dead, 1,500 injured, and this number could increase, many families have been lost. Wounded people have been taken to Kabul and to Gardes,” Mohammad Amin Hozaifa, director of information and communication, told Reuters. Paktika culture.

Most of the confirmed deaths occurred in the eastern province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Ayubi added. In Khost province, 25 died and 90 were taken to hospital.

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

Mounting a rescue operation will prove a major test for the Taliban, which took control of the country last August and has been cut off from much international aid due to sanctions.

The tremors were felt by around 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the EMSC said on Twitter, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan.

The EMSC estimated the earthquake’s magnitude at 6.1, although the USGC said it was 5.9.

Adding to the challenge for Afghan authorities are recent flooding in many areas, which the disaster management agency said left 11 dead, 50 injured and blocked sections of highway.

The disaster comes as Afghanistan has been grappling with a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took over as US-led international forces withdrew after two decades of war.

In response to the Taliban takeover, many countries imposed sanctions on the Afghan banking sector and cut billions of dollars in development aid.

Humanitarian assistance continued, however, with international agencies, such as the United Nations, operating.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Afghanistan has asked aid agencies to help with rescue efforts and teams are being sent to the quake-hit area.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Taliban would welcome international help. Neighboring Pakistan said it was working to expand aid.

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In 2015, an earthquake hit remote northeast Afghanistan, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and neighboring northern Pakistan.

In January, an earthquake struck western Afghanistan, killing more than 20 people.

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Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru and Mohammad Yunus Yawar in Kabul and Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Additional reporting by Kabul Newsroom, Alasdair Pal in Delhi; Written by Charlotte Greenfield and Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Robert Birsel, Clarence Fernandez and Angus MacSwan

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