Nearly 300 vanish as strong earthquake jolts Afghanistan


KABUL, Afghanistan
A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight, killing as many as 280 people and injuring more than 600 others, the country’s state-run Bakhtar news agency said on Wednesday.
The quake struck early Wednesday morning about 28 miles southwest of the city of Khost, a provincial capital in the country’s southeast, the United States Geological Survey said, and it had a depth of about six miles.
Raees Hozaifa, the director of information and culture in the eastern province of Paktika, said the earthquake was felt across several provinces, and that death toll in Paktika alone was at least 250 people.
Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, where 255 people had been killed, interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said on Wednesday.
In Khost province, 25 people had been killed and 90 taken to hospital, he said.
“The death toll is likely to rise as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details,” he said.
The head of the Taliban administration’s natural disaster ministry, Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, earlier said that investigations were being conducted to determine if there were more casualties.
Yaqub Manzor, a tribal leader from Paktika province, said survivors were mobilising to help those affected.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday said he is “deeply grieved” over the massive tragedy. “Deeply grieved to learn about earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in loss of innocent lives. People in Pakistan share the grief and sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Relevant authorities working to support Afghanistan in this time of need,” the Prime Minister said in a tweet.