6.1 Earthquake jolts eastern Afghanistan, 255 dead
Kabul, Afghanistan: At least 255 people were killed in an earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, which measured 6.1 on the Richter scale. A local government official told reporters that the death toll could rise as several people were seriously injured.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the epicenter of the quake was about 44 km from the Afghan city of Khost and was at a depth of 51 km. The European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) stressed that people in Pakistan and India also felt the tremors.
Disturbing images going viral on social media showed stone houses, people carrying people on stretchers, rubble and ruined houses in Paktika province near the Pakistan border.
Government spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter: “Unfortunately, last night a massive earthquake struck four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of homes.”
“We urge all aid agencies to immediately send teams to the area to prevent further devastation,” he said.
Mountainous Afghanistan and large areas of South Asia, where the Indian tectonic plate collides with the Eurasian plate in the north, have long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes.
In 2015, a major earthquake that struck the country’s northeast killed more than 200 people in Afghanistan and neighboring northern Pakistan. A similar 6.1 earthquake in 2002 killed nearly 1,000 people in northern Afghanistan. And in 1998, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks killed at least 4,500 people in the far northeast of Afghanistan.