Kabul, Afghanistan. A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight, killing at least 920 people and injuring more than 600, the country’s state-run Bakhtar news agency reported Wednesday, citing an official.
The quake struck early Wednesday morning about 45 miles southwest of the city of Khost, the provincial capital in the country’s southeast. The US Geological Survey reports.and it was about six miles deep.
The death toll of 920 people was announced by Deputy Minister for Disaster Management Sharafuddin Muslim at a briefing in Kabul.
Rais Hozaifa, director of information and culture for the eastern province of Paktika, said the quake was felt in several provinces.
In the Spera district of Khost province, northeast of Paktika province, the quake killed at least 40 people and injured 100 others, Shabir Ahmad Osmani, director of information and culture for Khost province, said by phone.
Reporting from Afghanistan
Rafiullah Rachel, head of the Paktika provincial health department, said 381 people had died and 205 were injured in the province.
Bakhtar News Agency posted a video on twitter a helicopter that landed in what he said was an earthquake-hit area. The report said that ambulances took the injured to hospitals.
Sarhadi Khosti, 26, who lives in the Sperah district, said he was awakened by the earthquake after 1 a.m. and that a number of houses, especially those made of earth or wood, were completely destroyed. He added that helicopters delivered some of the wounded to hospitals in Kabul and neighboring provinces.
“At the moment, we are still busy recovering the dead or injured from the rubble,” he said.
Dr. Ramiz Alekbarov, UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, tweeted that the organization assessed needs and responded to the aftermath of the earthquake. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, said on Twitter that the agency “will continue to support people in need across the country.”
The quake struck about 300 miles north-northeast of the site of the deadly 6.4 magnitude quake in Pakistan in 2008, according to the USGS.
The quake was felt in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and in the northern part of neighboring Pakistan. on the map which the European Mediterranean Seismological Center has posted on its website. The US Geological Survey reported that a second earthquake of magnitude 4.5 has occurred. struck about 30 miles southwest of Khost. in about an hour.
Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif of Pakistan said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the earthquake. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it is working to provide assistance to Afghanistan. “The people of Pakistan stand in firm solidarity with their Afghan brethren at this difficult time,” the statement said.
For civilians in Afghanistan earthquakes another risk in a country traumatized by decades of war. Many of the country’s densely populated cities are located on or near several geological faults, some of which can generate earthquakes of up to magnitude 7.
The earthquake on Wednesday, according to the US Geological Survey, was due to movement between the tectonic plates of India and Eurasia.
The agency said in a 2022 report that earthquakes have killed more than 7,000 people over the past decade, averaging 560 per year. In one area between Kabul and Jalalabad, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake is estimated to affect seven million people.
Two earthquakes in January hit the remote mountainous region of western Afghanistan.killing at least 27 people and destroying hundreds of homes, officials said at the time. Another earthquake in 2015 killed more than 300 people in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan and destroyed thousands of homes.
Safiullah Padshah reported from Kabul, Afghanistan and Mike Ives from Seoul. Isabella Kwai and Emma Bubola provided reporting from London.