Deaths rise to more than 1,000 and Taliban ask for aid after earthquake in Afghanistan

World

At least 255 people have been killed after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in southeastern Afghanistan, officials have said.

The quake struck about 27 miles (44km) from the city of Khost, close to the country’s border with Pakistan, and was at a depth of 31.6 miles (51km), according to the US Geological Survey.

Afghanistan’s state-run news agency Bakhtar reported at least 255 people had been killed.

Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistan border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area.

Bakhtar posted images of destroyed stone houses and the injured being treated in hospital.

Its director-general, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on Twitter that 90 homes were destroyed in the province of Paktika and dozens of people are believed to be trapped under the rubble.

“A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses,” tweeted Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government.

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“We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

It comes amid an economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control in August last year and the withdrawal of US-led international forces after two decades of war.

Its already fragile economy, heavily dependent on aid, has been crippled by Western sanctions on its banking sector and billions of cuts in aid – in response to the Taliban takeover.

Tremors were felt over a range of around 310 miles (500km) by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said in a tweet.

They extended to the Afghan capital Kabul, as well as Islamabad in Pakistan, according to witness accounts posted on the EMSC website and by Twitter users.

“Strong and long jolts,” one witness from Kabul wrote on the EMSC website. “It was strong,” said another witness from Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan.

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