An earthquake in eastern Afghanistan killed at least 255 people Wednesday morning, according to local authorities, although details of the incident remain limited.
The magnitude 6 earthquake hit the Paktika province of the country, just 10 months after the chaotic U.S. withdrawal and the departure of most of the international community from the region following last summer's Taliban takeover, which complicates efforts to offer relief to the nation's 38 million people.
State media reported the death count and said rescuers were arriving to the providence on helicopters. The earthquake destroyed at least 90 houses in Paktika and dozens of people are said to be trapped under the debris.
Video showed victims of the incident being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the region. Photos circulating online from the area revealed demolished stone houses, and residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble.
The tremors of the magnitude 6.1 quake was felt across Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan and their respective capitals Kabul and Islamabad.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Center told news agency Reuters that tremors were also felt in India.
“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,” Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesperson for the Taliban-led government said.
“We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe,” he further added.
The earthquake hit in the wee hours of early morning when most people were asleep.
Earlier in January, an earthquake of magnitude 5.3 on the Richter scale hit Afghanistan’s Herat killing more than 28 people.
With the death toll inching towards 300, this is the most devastating earthquake to have hit Afghanistan after 2015 when 399 people died after an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 on the Richter scale hit the nation’s Hindu Kush mountain range.By Rabiu Tajudeen