Powerful earthquake in Afghanistan kills hundreds | Radio-Canada News

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An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday morning, killing at least 255 people, authorities said.

Reports have remained sparse about the magnitude 6 earthquake that struck Paktika province, but it comes as the international community has largely left Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country last year. last amid the U.S. military’s chaotic withdrawal from the longest war in its history.

This will likely complicate relief efforts for the country of 38 million people.

The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll and said rescuers were arriving by helicopter. The news agency’s managing director, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on Twitter that 90 houses were destroyed in Paktika and dozens of people were trapped under the rubble.

Footage from Paktika province, near the Pakistani border, shows victims being transported in helicopters to be airlifted out of the area. Images widely circulated online from the province showed destroyed stone houses, with residents rummaging through clay bricks and other rubble.

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Bakhtar posted footage of a resident receiving intravenous fluids from a plastic chair outside the rubble of his home and others lying on stretchers.

“A violent earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our compatriots and destroying dozens of houses,” Bilal Karimi, deputy Taliban government spokesman, wrote separately on Twitter. “We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the region immediately to prevent further disasters.”

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In neighboring Khost province, authorities believe there are also dozens injured and dead in the quake, Rayan said.

Tremors felt across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India

The nearby Pakistan Meteorological Department estimated the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.1. Tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern province of Punjab. Some remote parts of Pakistan reported damage to homes near the Afghan border, but it was not immediately clear whether this was due to rain or the earthquake, said Taimoor Khan, spokesman for the management of the disasters in the region.

In a statement, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed condolences over the earthquake, saying his country would provide aid to the Afghan people.

The European seismological agency, EMSC, said tremors from the quake were felt more than 500 kilometers away by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

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Mountainous Afghanistan and the larger region of South Asia along The Switzerland Times Kush mountains, where the Indian tectonic plate collides with the Eurasian plate to the north, have long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes. Poor construction of homes, hospitals and other buildings puts them at risk of collapse during earthquakes, while landslides remain common in Afghanistan’s mountains.

In 2015, a major earthquake that hit the northeast of the country killed more than 200 people in Afghanistan and neighboring northern Pakistan. A similar 6.1 earthquake in 2002 killed around 1,000 people in northern Afghanistan. And in 1998, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake and subsequent tremors in remote northeast Afghanistan killed at least 4,500 people.

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