At least 285 people were killed and over 600 injured after an earthquake struck Afghanistan’s two eastern provinces early Wednesday, the state-run Bakhtar News Agency reported.
“Some 255 people lost their lives and 500 injured in Barmal, Ziruk, Naka and Gayan districts of Paktika province. Helicopters and rescue teams have arrived in the affected areas from neighboring provinces and Kabul,” the report said, referring to one of the quake-hit provinces.
The Gayan district was the worst-hit area in Paktika, according to the report.
The quake has destroyed and damaged scores of houses in the region and also caused land sliding in Paktika, local sources said.
The number of casualties might rise as dozens were still trapped under the debris.
The quake jolted in mountainous areas and the Ministry of Defense dispatched seven helicopters with life-saving equipment and medical personnel to the area, while medical and rescue teams were also on the way to the affected areas, the ministry said on Twitter.
In Sapari district of neighboring Khost province, at least 25 people were killed and 95 others wounded, the report said. At least five people were killed in Nangarhar province.
Hours after the quake, Acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund chaired an emergency cabinet meeting Wednesday morning, the prime minister office wrote on Twitter.
Hassan Akhund has expressed sorrow over the loss of lives following the quake and expressed condolences to people who lost their relatives.
“The meeting has ordered all concerned agencies to rush to the spot immediately. Use all available resources to save the lives of the affected people and provide all necessary assistance.”
The quake, with a magnitude of 5.9, jolted 44 km southwest of Khost, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.