- Afghanistan was struck by a powerful magnitude 6.1 earthquake early on Wednesday, killing dozens of people.
- An official told Reuters the quake killed at least 280 people and injured hundreds more.
- The death toll is expected to rise as more information becomes available.
KABUL – An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 killed at least 280 people in Afghanistan early on Wednesday, officials said, adding that hundreds of people were injured, and the toll was likely to rise as information trickled in from remote mountain villages.
The quake struck about 44km from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border, the US Geological Survey (USGC) said.
"Strong and long jolts," a resident of the Afghan capital, Kabul, posted on the website of the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC).
"It was strong," said a resident of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
on Afghan media showed houses reduced to rubble and bodies covered in blankets
on the ground.
The EMSC put the magnitude at 6.1 though the USGC said it was 5.9.
Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, where 255 people had been killed and more than 200 injured, said interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi.
Authorities had launched a rescue operation and helicopters were being used to reach the injured and take in medical supplies and food, he added.
Shaking was felt by about 119
million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the EMSC said on Twitter.
Severe economic crisis
Earlier, the head of the Taliban administration's natural disaster ministry, Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, said the majority of deaths were in the province of Paktika, where 100 people were killed and 250 injured.
Another 25 people were killed in Khost, and five in Nangarhar province, he said, adding that investigations were being conducted to determine if there were more casualties.
no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan.
The disaster comes as Afghanistan has been enduring a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took over in August, as US-led international forces were withdrawing after two decades of war.
In response to the Taliban takeover, many governments have imposed sanctions on Afghanistan's banking sector and cut billions of dollars' worth of development aid.
Never miss a story. Choose from our
range of newsletters to get the news you
want delivered straight to your inbox.