Hundreds of people died in the earthquake in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

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Severe earthquake: More than 1000 dead and difficult rescue work

According to official figures, at least 255 people died in a violent earthquake in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

Islamabad (Afghanistan) – “There is great chaos everywhere. I counted a hundred bodies in an hour,” reports a journalist from the mountainous region on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan after a devastating earthquake startled residents early Wednesday morning. The authorities reported at least 1,000 dead and 1,500 injured on Wednesday, according to the state news agency Bakhtar. The area, which is difficult to access, made rescue work difficult, and cell phone reception is also poor.

Hundreds of people died in the earthquake in the Afghan-Pakistani border region. © Uncredited/Bakhtar News Agency/AP/dpa

“The horror is great. The parents cannot find their children and the children cannot find their parents. Everyone wonders who is dead and who is alive. The houses are made of clay, and that is why they were all destroyed by the strong earthquake,” says journalist Rahim Chan Chushal further from the scene of the destruction. “Even those who are physically well are scared.”

The Taliban leadership expressed its sympathy and condolences to the victims. According to the UN emergency relief agency OCHA, up to 1,800 houses were destroyed. Afghan media reported that one village had been completely destroyed. Many animals also died. The construction in the poor and economically weak region is not earthquake-proof for cost reasons, many families live close together.

The rescue work was made more difficult by the access to the remote mountain region. The militant Islamist Taliban, who have ruled Afghanistan again since August 2021, called an emergency cabinet meeting.

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Several helicopters were sent to the disaster area to help local people. A government spokesman called on aid organizations for support. Helpers from the Red Crescent arrived on Wednesday.

the US Seismological Survey (USGS) reported a magnitude of 5.9 for the earthquake at around 1:30 a.m. (local time) and a slightly weaker aftershock.

Accordingly, the center of the earthquake was around 50 kilometers southwest of the city of Khost near the border with Pakistan at a depth of around ten kilometers. Pakistani authorities registered the earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1.

Afghans rescue a victim after a powerful earthquake hit the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

Afghans rescue a victim after a powerful earthquake hit the Afghan-Pakistani border region. © Uncredited/Bakhtar News Agency/AP/dpa

According to Pakistani information, the tremors were felt in large parts of the neighboring country – including in the capital Islamabad and even in Lahore in the east of the country. Panic broke out in some places, but according to initial information, nothing was known about damage or injuries in Pakistan.

Pope Francis has prayed for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan. “I express my closeness to the injured and those affected by the earthquake,” said the head of the Catholic Church on Wednesday at the end of the general audience in front of believers and visitors in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

The 85-year-old said he prayed especially for those who lost their lives and for their families.

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Initial report from 8:16 a.m., updated at 6:58 p.m.

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