Earthquake hits eastern Afghanistan: up to 280 feared dead

The earthquake struck at 1:24 a.m. about 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) southwest of the city of Khost, which is near the country’s border with Pakistan, according to the United States Geological Survey. (USGS).

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the USGS, which assigned the quake an alert level of yellow, indicating a relatively localized impact.

Casualties were reported in Barmal, Zirok, Nika and Giyan districts of Paktika province, with more than 600 injured, according to Bakhtar.

Local officials and residents have warned that the death toll is likely to rise, according to Bakhar. Full casualty figures are not yet clear, and CNN is unable to independently confirm Bakhtar’s information.

Photos from Paktika province, just south of Khost province, show destroyed houses with only a wall or two still standing amid rubble and broken roof beams.

Najibullah Sadid, an Afghan water resources management expert, said the quake coincided with heavy monsoon rains in the area, rendering traditional houses, many of which are made of mud and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.

“The timing of the earthquake (in) the darkness of the night (…) and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers from its epicenter led to a greater number of victims,” ​​he added.

A Taliban deputy spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said the quake had been “serious” and asked aid agencies to “urge teams” to the affected area.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the World Health Organization said its teams were on the ground for emergency response, including providing medicine, trauma services and conducting needs assessments.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif offered condolences and an offer of support in a tweet on Wednesday. “Deeply saddened to learn of the earthquake in Afghanistan which resulted in the loss of innocent lives,” he wrote. “The people of Pakistan share the grief and pain of their Afghan brothers. The relevant authorities are working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.

This is a developing story.

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