According to a Taliban spokesman who spoke to the BBC, a strong earthquake in Afghanistan has killed 1,000 people and injured hundreds more.
In the eastern Paktika province, where rescuers have been rushing to treat the injured, pictures reveal landslides and destroyed mud-built dwellings.
Numerous homes have been damaged, according to Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, and the death toll is certain to climb.
It is the most deadly earthquake to have hit Afghanistan in the previous 20 years.
Mohammad Amin Hazifi, the Paktika province’s information chief, told the BBC that 1,500 people had been hurt and 1,000 had perished.
He stated that rescue workers are still looking for anyone who may be buried underground.
A lot of people were asleep at home when the earthquake occurred, which was located approximately 44 kilometers (27 miles) from the city of Khost in the south-eastern part of Afghanistan.
“You can hear folks lamenting the loss of their loved ones on every street you walk down. Homes are destroyed, “According to a local journalist in the severely damaged Paktika area,
In Afghanistan, where many rural houses are unstable or poorly constructed, earthquakes can cause major damage.
Alem Wafa, a local farmer, sobbed as he informed the BBC that official rescue crews have not yet arrived at one of the worst affected villages, rural Gyan.
“Although there are no official assistance professionals present, residents of nearby towns and cities have come to rescue victims. When I got there this morning, I discovered 40 dead bodies.”
He went on: “The majority of them are really small youngsters. A hospital is located here. But it is unable to handle this catastrophe. It lacks the capability.”
Officials from the Taliban urged assistance organizations to hasten their arrival in the nation’s eastern impacted regions.
Despite efforts by relief organizations to strengthen some buildings over the years, the impoverished nation has struggled to develop its defenses against earthquakes and other natural disasters due to decades of conflict.
Even before the Taliban took control of the country, Afghanistan’s emergency services were understaffed and underequipped to handle natural disasters.
Another local journalist in the area told the BBC that communication has been challenging since the earthquake because cell phone tower damage has made it possible for the dead toll to increase even further.
Due to malfunctioning phones, he claimed, “many individuals are unaware of the health of their families.” “After several hours, I only learned that my brother and his family had passed away. There have been several village destructions.”
Helicopters have been using distant places to transport patients to hospitals.
Medical professionals were among the victims, a doctor from one of the hardest affected districts in Paktika province told the BBC.
“The earthquake has destroyed what little we had because we didn’t have enough people and resources before it,” they claimed. “I have no idea how many of our coworkers are still around.”
Locals revealed horrifying pictures of death and devastation in the wake of the late-night earthquake to the news agency Reuters.
“I yelled with the children. We lost one of our rooms. When we saw everyone’s rooms and our neighbors’ screams, “Fatima said.
Local resident Faisal remarked, “It wrecked the homes of our neighbors.” “There were a lot of people dead and hurt when we got there. We were taken to a hospital by them. I also observed numerous dead bodies.”
According to a local doctor, the majority of the casualties to date have occurred in the Paktika regions of Gayan and Barmal. A complete village in Gayan was reportedly destroyed, according to the local media outlet Etilaat-e Roz.
Seismologists estimate that the earthquake had a depth of about 51 kilometers and had a magnitude of 6.1.
Over 500 kilometers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India experienced tremors. Witnesses claimed to have felt the earthquake in Islamabad, Pakistan, as well as Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
However, according to BBC Urdu, there have been no initial reports of fatalities or serious damage in Pakistan.
Due to its location in a tectonically active area and its proximity to a variety of fault lines, including the Chaman fault, the Hari Rud fault, the Central Badakhshan fault, and the Darvaz fault, Afghanistan is prone to earthquakes.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 7,000 people have died in earthquakes in the nation during the past ten years. Earthquakes cause 560 fatalities annually on average.