One of the deadliest earthquakes in decades rocked a remote, mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan early on Wednesday, killing 1,000 people and wounding 1,500 more, according to the state-run news agency.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) revised an initial estimate of 6.1 to 5.9 after measuring the earthquake in the early hours of Wednesday.
The USGS reported the quake’s epicenter was around 46 kilometers (27 miles) away from Khost, close to the Pakistani border, at a depth of 51 kilometers, the US Geological Survey said. The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre said shaking was felt by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.
Muhammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in hard-hit Paktika said, “People are digging grave after grave.”
“It is raining also, and all houses are destroyed. People are still trapped under the rubble,” he told journalists.
Salahuddin Ayubi, a representative of the interior ministry, had earlier claimed that more people would likely die since “some of the villages are in remote places in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details.”
A tribal elder from the Paktika province named Yaqub Manzor claimed that survivors were organizing to aid the harmed.
“The local markets are closed and all the people have rushed to the affected areas,” he said.
The death toll reported by the government-run Bakhtar News Agency in Afghanistan was equivalent to that of an earthquake that devastated northern Afghanistan in 2002 just after the US-led invasion ousted the Taliban’s previous regime.
Men were seen transferring individuals to waiting helicopters in the Paktika province, which is close to the Pakistani border. Others received treatment on the floor. Images from damaged stone homes, with some of their roofs or walls caving in, showed locals digging through clay bricks and other debris.
Huzaifa said, “The death toll has reached 1,000 and the number is rising. People are digging grave after grave.”
Approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) distant, in the Afghan capital, people felt the aftershocks, according to Afghan journalist Ali M. Latifi, who was reporting from Kabul.
Authorities claim that hundreds of homes have been damaged in this little developed area, 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 added.
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