22 June 2022| 21 Dhul Qa’dha 1443

At least 280 people have been killed and more than 200 others injured after a powerful earthquake hit remote parts of southeastern Afghanistan, the country’s disaster management authority said.

Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed, interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said on Wednesday.

In Khost province, 25 people were killed and 90 taken to hospital, he said.

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

The head of the Taliban administration’s natural disaster ministry, Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, earlier said that investigations were being conducted to determine if there were more casualties.

Yaqub Manzor, a tribal leader from Paktika province, said survivors were mobilising to help those affected.

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

Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistan border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area. Images widely circulating online from the province showed destroyed homes, with residents going through the rubble.

Remote region

Afghan journalist Ali M Latifi, reporting from Kabul, said people as far as the Afghan capital, some 200km (124 miles) away, felt the aftershocks.

Authorities are reporting hundreds of houses have been destroyed in the region, which has not seen a lot of development, Latifi said.

“Authorities have sent helicopters and are calling for aid agencies to come in and rescue people from the rubble. But it’s a remote area and harder to reach,” he said.

“The international rescue committee said they have deployed a local medical team to try and respond to the disaster.

“The biggest issue is how to reach the sites because they are further away from the provincial capitals, and the road conditions could be difficult. So really the issue is how long it’s going to take them to get there,” the Afghan journalist said.

The United States Geological Survey has revised the earthquake magnitude to 5.9 whereas it had earlier put it at 6.1. The epicentre of the quake was about 46km (27 miles) from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border, the USGS said.

Hedayatullah Paktin, journalist and political writer, said that most houses in the region are built in the traditional style, with the use of soil, stone and other materials, adding that concrete houses are rare.

Unfortunately, the quake hits at a time when Afghanistan is already suffering an economic crisis, with little access to basic needs and medical facilities, Paktin told Al Jazeera from the Afghan capital.

Strong jolts felt in Pakistan, Iran

Tremors could be felt in neighbouring Pakistan and Iran. However, there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in the two countries.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department said the quake jolted parts of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, according to the Dawn news website, which added that there was no immediate news of deaths or damage.

Some remote areas of Pakistan saw reports of damage to homes near the Afghan border, but it was not immediately clear if that was due to the earthquake, said Taimoor Khan, a disaster management spokesperson in the area.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a statement offered his condolences over the earthquake, saying his nation will provide help to the Afghan people.

Source – Al Jazeera

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