People of Afghanistan woke up to strong tremors on Wednesday, with areas like Spera District in Khost province, Barmala, Ziruk, Naka and Gayan districts in Paktika Province being the most affected. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the epicentre was 44 km from Khost city and measured 6.1 on the Richter scale.

Over 1,000 people lost their lives, about 1,500 people were injured and many villages have been destroyed. Director general of state-run Bakhtar news agency Abdul Wahid Rayan shared on Twitter that about 90 houses have been destroyed in the area and dozens of people are trapped under the rubble.  

Speaking to a local daily, Maulawi Huzifa, who is the head of the Patrika department of information and culture, revealed that the earthquake occurred around 1:30 am and many of the victims are from the Giyan district of the province.

Today, an emergency meeting was held to discuss ways to help people affected by the earthquake. Several organisations have been tasked to send rescue teams.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( UNOCHA) tweeted that inter-agency assessment teams have been deployed to several affected areas. EU special envoy to Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson, on the other hand, tweeted that the EU is monitoring the situation and stands ready to coordinate and provide EU emergency assistance to people and communities affected.

India too expressed grief over the tragic incident and extended condolences to the bereaved families. It further committed to providing assistance and support to Afghanistan.

External affairs minister Arindam Baghchi said, «India expresses sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families, and to all those impacted by the tragic earthquake in Afghanistan. We share the grief of the people of Afghanistan and remain committed to providing assistance and support in this hour of need.”

To which, Afghanistan ambassador to India Farid Mamundzay responded, «Appreciate the solidarity and support of India at this difficult time. Humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was already going from worse to worst – and with the occurrence of natural disasters like the recent earthquake make life unbearable for many Afghans”.

Making an appeal for help, an emotional Mazmundzay added, «Immediate international help is required to deal with both the humanitarian crisis and the damages caused by the natural disaster. The casualty figure is likely to go up as search operations continue in various parts of Paktika, Khost and Nangarhar.»

Scores of images and videos trickling in on social media from Afghanistan show the devastation caused by the earthquake. From ruined homes and villages to people queuing up in a bid to get necessary aid, the images reflect the damage caused by one of the deadliest earthquakes in Afghanistan. 

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