280 killed as powerful quake of magnitude 6.1 strikes Afghanistan
At least 280 people were killed as a powerful earthquake jolted Afghanistan early on Wednesday, BBC reported. The quake struck the country's eastern side and the majority of the deaths took place in the province of Paktika, which reported 255 deaths and over 200 injuries so far, Reuters reported quoting disaster management officials. The earthquake's magnitude was reported as 6.1 on the Richter scale.
Causalities may increase as authorities assessing the situation
According to Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, the chief of the Taliban administration's disaster management authority, the situation is being assessed and the impact will be communicated soon. He also stated that the death toll is being assessed. As per the preliminary investigations, besides Paktika, several deaths were also recorded in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Khost.
Tremors felt in Pakistan and India too
According to officials, the quake struck roughly 44 kilometers southwest of Khost. The tremors were felt across a distance of over 500 kilometers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) officials told Reuters. People in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, as well as Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, also reported feeling the quake, according to the EMSC.
What did the government spokesperson say?
"Unfortunately, last night there was a severe earthquake in four districts of Paktika province, which killed and injured hundreds of our countrymen and destroyed dozens of houses," the Taliban government's spokesperson Bilal Karimi tweeted. He urged the government and private agencies, including aid NGOs, to send teams to the affected areas immediately to provide assistance and prevent further damage.
Natural disaster hits country amid severe economic crisis
The earthquake struck Afghanistan at a time when it has been in the grip of a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took control in August 2021 as US-led foreign forces left the country after two decades of conflict. Meanwhile, many nations have put sanctions on Afghanistan's banking system and slashed billions of dollars in development funding in response to the Taliban takeover.
Afghan government seeks international aid
Reportedly, humanitarian assistance is being provided by several agencies, including United Nations, to Afghanistan, aiding the administration in rescue and relief operations. Meanwhile, the country's foreign ministry stated they would welcome any international assistance. A similar earthquake struck Afghanistan in 2015, killing hundreds. Notably, many South Asian regions are seismically active because the Indian tectonic plate is reportedly pushing northward into the Eurasian plate.