Kabul, June 22 (EFE).- As many as 280 people were killed and 600 injured after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan before dawn on Wednesday, the official Bakhtar news agency said.
The earthquake hit Paktika and Khost provinces at 1:24 am (local time) about 46 km (28.5 miles) southwest of the city of Khost, which lies near the border with Pakistan.
“The death toll is likely to rise,” the news agency tweeted, citing local officials and residents.
Full casualty figures and the extent of damage are not yet clear.
Disaster Management Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Nasim Haqqani confirmed to EFE that more than 100 people, “including women and children,” lost their lives dead and over 70 suffered injuries.
Haqqani said the toll was likely to rise.
Images shared on social networks showed various houses destroyed.
The Taliban government has begun rescue efforts by sending aid and medical supplies in helicopters.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake had a 10-km depth, affecting the areas within a 250-km radius.
The official news agency said casualties occurred in the Barmala, Ziruk, Naka, and Gayan districts of Paktika province.
The US agency assigned a “yellow alert” for possible fatalities due to the earthquake, saying “casualties are possible and the impact should be relatively localized.”
For economic losses, the agency issued a “green alert” due to “a low likelihood of damage.”
Past events with this alert level have required a local or regional level response.
The US monitoring agency said most of the people in the region reside in structures, which are extremely vulnerable to earthquake shaking, even though some resistant structures do exist in the affected areas.
Afghanistan frequently experiences earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush region, which sees strong seismic activity.
More than 100 people died in Afghanistan and over 300 in neighboring Pakistan in October 2015 as a result of a 7.7 magnitude earthquake that had its epicenter in the far northeast of Afghanistan.
In January this year, 22 people lost their lives in a 5.3 magnitude earthquake that struck a rural area of the northwestern Badghis province. EFE