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Afghan quake kills 1,000; toll expected to rise

China Daily | Updated: 2022-06-23 07:25
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People look at the destruction caused by an earthquake in Paktika, eastern Afghanistan, on Wednesday. The earthquake killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 others, according to the country's emergency response officials. [BAKHTAR NEWS AGENCY]

KABUL-A powerful earthquake struck a rural, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border early on Wednesday, killing at least 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 others, authorities said.

Emergency officials warned the death toll will likely rise.

Afghan emergency official Sharafuddin Muslim provided the death toll at a news conference. Earlier, the director-general of state-run Bakhtar news agency, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on social media that 90 houses had been destroyed in the province of Paktika and dozens of people were believed to be trapped under the rubble.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing on Wednesday that so far, there were no reports of casualties among Chinese citizens.

Wang said that China expressed its condolences over the deaths in the earthquake and extended its sympathy to the injured and the bereaved families, and that China is willing to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan according to the country's requirements.

The temblor struck 44 kilometers from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border, the United States Geological Survey said.

"Strong and long jolts," a resident of the Afghan capital Kabul posted on the website of the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

Photographs on Afghan media showed houses reduced to rubble and bodies covered in blankets on the ground.

The center put the magnitude of the quake at 5.9.

In Kabul, Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund convened an emergency meeting at the presidential palace to coordinate the relief effort for victims in Paktika and Khost provinces.

Authorities had launched a rescue operation and helicopters were being used to reach the injured and bring in medical supplies and food.

Tremors were felt over 500 kilometers away by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the center wrote on social media.

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

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued a statement offering his condolences over the earthquake and saying his nation would provide help to the Afghan people.

The disaster came as Afghanistan has been enduring a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took over in August 2021, after US-led Western forces withdrew following two decades of war. Many Western countries had imposed sanctions on Afghanistan's banking sector and cut billions of dollars worth of development aid following the Taliban takeover.

Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

In 2015, an earthquake struck the remote Afghan northeast, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.

Mo Jingxi contributed to this story.





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