SHARAN: A powerful earthquake jolted a remote border region of Afghanistan overnight killing at least 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more, officials said Wednesday, with the toll expected to rise as desperate rescuers dig through collapsed dwellings.
The 5.9-magnitude quake struck hardest in the rugged east, where people already lead hardscrabble lives in the grip of a humanitarian crisis made worse since the Taliban takeover in August.
“People are digging grave after grave,” said Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in hard-hit Paktika, adding that at least 1,000 people had died in that province alone.
He said more than 1,500 people were injured, many critically.
“People are still trapped under the rubble,” he told journalists.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the global agency has “fully mobilized” to help, with UN officials confirming the deployment of health teams and supplies of medicine, food, trauma kits and emergency shelter to the quake zone.
The death toll climbed steadily Wednesday as news of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach areas in the mountains, and the country s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned it would likely rise further.
The earthquake struck areas that were already suffering the effects of heavy rain, causing rockfalls and mudslides that hampered rescue efforts.
“It was a horrible situation,” said Arup Khan, 22, recovering at a hospital in Paktika s provincial capital Sharan.