Islamabad - A powerful earthquake in Afghanistan's southeast has killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds of others, Taliban authorities said.
Rescue workers said the casualties from the quake, which struck during the early hours of Wednesday, were likely to increase further.
Deputy Taliban Minister for Disaster Management Mawlawi Sharafuddin Muslim told a news conference in the capital, Kabul that most of the devastation occurred in southeastern Paktika and Khost provinces, which border Pakistan.
People carry injured to a helicopter following a massive earthquake, in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, June 22, 2022, in this screen grab taken from a video. (Bakhtar News Agency/Handout via Reuters)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude 6.1 quake struck about 44 kilometers from the provincial capital of Khost.
Local journalists and witnesses reported the death toll could be as high as 2,500.
Provincial chief Mohammad Amin told VOA that at least 1,000 people were killed, and 1,500 others injured in two districts of Paktika alone.
An Afghan man holds a child inside a hospital in the city of Sharan that was injured in an earthquake in Gayan district, Paktika province on June 22, 2022.
Videos shared on social media showed flattened homes and rubble. The earthquake also rattled Kabul.
Taliban authorities said people were still under the rubble and rescue efforts, backed by helicopters, were underway. They also urged all aid organizations working in Afghanistan to help in the rescue operations.
Ramiz Alakbarov, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, tweeted that his mission was "assessing the needs and responding in the aftermath of the earthquake"
The International Committee of the Red Cross tweeted that it was sending additional medical supplies to three hospitals in the areas affected by the earthquake to enable medical teams to answer to the needs of the patients.
The U.S. Embassy to Kabul, which currently operates out of Doha, said "We are deeply saddened by reports of an earthquake in eastern Afghanistan. We offer our heartfelt condolences to all who have been affected by this devastating event."
Tremors were reportedly felt across more than 500 kilometers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center.
Residents in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and the northwestern city, Peshawar, also said they experienced tremors but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Islamabad extended condolences to Afghanistan over the devastation caused by the earthquake.
"Our authorities and institutions are working to extend required assistance to Afghanistan in coordination with their relevant institutions," said a Pakistani foreign ministry statement.