At Least 920 People Die as 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake Struck Afghanistan


Alt: = "Afghans and military helicopter at earthquake site"

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake has struck a remote border region of Afghanistan overnight killing not less than 920 people and injuring hundreds others, officials said Wednesday, with the toll expected to rise as rescuers dig through collapsed dwellings.

The quake struck hardest in the rugged terrain of the east, where people already live humdrum lives amidst humanitarian disaster made worse by the Taliban takeover of the country's government in August.

The death toll is reported to be on steady rise all day as news of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach areas in the mountains, and the country’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned it would likely rise further.

“So far the information we have is that at least 920 people have been martyred and 600 injured,” Sharafuddin Muslim, the deputy minister for disaster management, told a press conference in the capital, Kabul.

Earlier, a tribal leader from Paktika province — one of the hardest hit areas — said survivors and rescuers were scrambling to help those affected.

“The local markets are closed and all the people have rushed to the affected areas,” Yaqub Manzor told AFP by telephone.

Photographs and video clips posted on social media showed scores of badly damaged mud houses in remote rural areas.

Some footage showed local residents evacuating victims into a military helicopter.

The Afghanistan government says its making efforts to rescue victims, and also call on international community to come to their aid.

“The government is working within its capabilities,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official.

“We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation.”

The United Nations and the European Union were quick to respond.

“Inter-agency assessment teams have already been deployed to a number of affected areas,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan tweeted.

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