World

More Than 1,000 Dead After Earthquake Strikes Afghanistan

REUTERS/FAYAZ AZIZ

Kay Smythe Commentary Writer
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More than 1,000 people died Tuesday after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan.

The quake started around 1:24 a.m. local time roughly 30 miles from the city of Khost near the Pakistan border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The epicenter was just 10.0 km in depth, the USGS noted, and was therefore designated as a localized impact under a yellow alert, CNN reported.

A majority of those killed were in Paktika province, and the death toll currently stands at more than 1,000 individuals, with at least 1,500 injured in just two provinces, CNN reported. The quake coincided with a heavy monsoon season, making the traditional mud and natural-material homes especially vulnerable to damage, the outlet continued.

The death toll is expected to rise as data comes in from remote villages in the region, Reuters noted. The quake is the deadliest in the country since 2002, and was felt in neighboring Pakistan and India, the outlet continued.

At least one aftershock of magnitude 4.5 hit the region shortly after the initial larger quake, USGS reported.

“People are digging grave after grave,” Head of Paktika’s Information and Culture Department, Muhammad Amin Huzaifa told journalists, according to Aljazeera, “It is raining also, and all houses are destroyed. People are still trapped under the rubble.” (RELATED: Terrorist Organization Bans Major Social Media Platform, Limiting Connection With Outside World)

The timing of the quake coincided with more than half of Afghans suffering from acute hunger, a lack of medical care and an economic crisis under Taliban rule, CNN and Aljazeera noted.

The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in 2021 after President Joe Biden ordered a withdrawal from the country after more than 20 years of U.S. military presence.