ISLAMABAD, June 22( Alliance News): An earthquake near the southeastern Afghan city of Khost has killed at least 950 people and injured more than 600, with the death toll expected to rise.
According to foreign media, pictures in the Afghan media show houses being reduced to rubble and bodies lying on the ground wrapped in blankets, making it the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in two decades.
The quake, which struck between Tuesday and Wednesday night, shook densely populated areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the US Geological Survey.
The quake had a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter scale and its epicenter was 44 km away from Khost city while its depth was 51 km.
Earlier, Interior Ministry official Salahuddin Ayoubi said most of the deaths occurred in the eastern province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 250 injured.
He said that 25 people were killed and 90 injured in Khost province.
He said the death toll could rise as some villages are in remote mountainous areas and it would take time to gather information.
Salahuddin Ayubi said authorities had launched a rescue operation and helicopters were being used to reach the injured and provide them with medical supplies and food.
Muhammad Naseem Haqqani, head of the Taliban administration’s Disaster Management Authority, confirmed the large number of deaths in the quake.
After the earthquake in the eastern part of Afghanistan, a large number of houses were reduced to rubble.
The quake was also felt in Pakistan but no casualties or damage were reported.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center said in a tweet that 110 million people in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan over an area of 500 km felt the tremors.
Pakistan expresses regret Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives due to the earthquake in Afghanistan.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister said that he was with his Afghan brothers and sisters in this hour of need and was deeply saddened by the loss of life in the earthquake especially in Paktika region.
He said that Pakistan would extend all possible assistance to the people of Afghanistan and instructions have been issued to the concerned authorities in this regard.
The Prime Minister also prayed for speedy recovery of the injured and expressed sympathy with the affected families while also expressing his sorrow on the social networking website Twitter.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office expressed regret over the loss of life and property caused by the earthquake in Afghanistan.
The wreckage of the quake-hit house describes the devastation. Photo courtesy of Twitter
He said that the government and people of Pakistan were deeply saddened by the tragic earthquake in Paktika province and adjoining areas of Afghanistan and the loss of precious lives and property due to the catastrophic floods in different provinces of the country. Sorry.
“The Pakistani people stand with their Afghan brothers in this hour of need and we have no doubt that the Afghan people will overcome the effects of this natural disaster to the best of their ability,” he said.
The Foreign Office said that our authorities and agencies are working with their respective agencies to provide the required assistance to Afghanistan.
Expressing sorrow over the loss of precious lives due to the earthquake in Afghanistan, President Dr. Arif Ali said that his sympathies are with the earthquake victims and I pray for those who were killed and injured in the earthquake.
Dr. Arif Alvi expressed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved and said that Pakistan stands by Afghanistan in this hour of need.
Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said on Twitter that his prayers and sympathies are with the Afghan people and government for the loss of life as a result of the earthquake.
Afghanistan is facing its first humanitarian crisis since the Taliban took control, while Western countries, including the United States, have frozen Afghanistan’s assets.
Earthquakes are frequently felt in Afghanistan, especially the epicenter of the Hindu Kush mountain range, located near the confluence of the Eurasian and subcontinental landforms.
Earthquake-stricken Afghanistan is in danger of being severely damaged by mud houses and buildings.
It may be recalled that the worst earthquake of 7.5 magnitude occurred in Afghanistan and neighboring countries in 2015 where 280 people were killed and its effects were also felt in Pakistan and several people were killed.
The quake also killed 12 schoolgirls in a stampede while trying to get out of school.
In 2002, an earthquake in the same province killed more than 2,000 people.