1,000 dead as powerful earthquake wreaks havoc in Afghanistan
Hundreds of houses collapse as 6.1 magnitude jolt hits Pak-Afghan border areas: PM Shehbaz expresses sorrow, offers to provide all possible assistance to Afghan people
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As many as 1,000 people were killed and hundreds of houses were razed to the ground in Afghanistan's borders areas when a powerful earthquake of 5.9 magnitude hit the Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier region in the wee hours of Wednesday, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The epicenter of the quake was 46 km SW of Khost, Afghanistan, its depth was about 50.8 kilometers under the ground and tremors were felt in North Waziristan, Swat, Buner, Mehmand, Malakand, Peshawar, Kohat, Shabqadar, Bhakkar, Phalia, Kamalia, and Multan.
The tremors sent a wave of fear and panic among citizens, and they came out of their houses in fear, reciting Kalima Tayyeba.
People said that the tremors were felt for 30 to 40 seconds. There were no reports of any casualties or damages so far in Pakistan.
However, Afghan disaster minister confirmed that at least 1,000 people were killed, hundreds more injured and hundreds of houses were destroyed in Afghanistan due to the powerful earthquake.
The local sources said that no government succor has reached yet in the quake-hit areas and people were helping themselves out on their own in Khaisur, Dangar Lagad, Afghan Dubai, Barmil and other adjoining areas destroyed by the tremors.
Pictures shared on social media showed people on stretchers, rubble and ruined homes in the eastern Paktika province.
"Unfortunately, last night there was a severe earthquake in four districts of Paktika province, which killed and injured hundreds of our countrymen and destroyed dozens of houses," government spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted.
Tremors were felt across more than 500km of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, quoted by Reuters.
"We call on aid agencies to provide immediate relief to the victims of the earthquake to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe," Afghan government spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted after a 5.9-magnitude quake hit several areas bordering Pakistan during the night.
Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika, one of the provinces hit by the tremor, told AFP the toll is expected to rise.
Government officials said they would soon release details of casualties and damage caused by the quake.
Photographs posted on social media showed several heavily damaged mud houses in remote rural areas.
Earlier, powerful twin earthquakes had jolted many cities including Islamabad on Friday last.
The first earthquake struck afternoon on Friday last and shook a number of areas in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir. The second earthquake jolted the areas including Islamabad in the evening.
According to the seismic centre, the magnitude of the earthquake, which struck at 2:25pm, was five on the Richter Scale and its epicentre was near the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It struck at a depth of 218 kilometres under the ground.
The cities which were shaken by the earthquake in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were Malakand, Swat, Abbottabad, Charsadda, Mingora, Peshawar, Swabi, Upper Dir, Buner, Mardan, Diamer, Kohat and Shangla.
The Azad Kashmir’s cities of Rawalakot and Bagh were also jolted by the powerful earthquake.
The earthquake lasted for a few seconds, causing fear across the whole region. The citizens were forced to run for safety, and away from their residences and offices.
PM Shehbaz expresses sorrow
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives due to earthquake in Afghanistan.
In a statement, the premier said that Pakistan stood with its Afghan brothers and sisters in this difficult time. He vowed to provide all possible assistance to the people of Afghanistan directing the authorities concerned to assist the affected people in Afghanistan.
In a tweet, the premier said: “Deeply grieved to learn about earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in loss of innocent lives. People in Pakistan share the grief & sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Relevant authorities working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.”
Deeply grieved to learn about earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in loss of innocent lives. People in Pakistan share the grief & sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Relevant authorities working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) June 22, 2022
Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said that the people of Pakistan stood in strong solidarity with their Afghan brethren in this difficult time.
The spokesperson said “We have no doubt that the brotherly Afghan people will overcome the effects of this natural calamity with their characteristic resilience.”
He said Pakistani authorities and institutions were working to extend required assistance to Afghanistan in coordination with their relevant institutions.
Pakistan military extends humanitarian assistance
The Armed Forces of Pakistan on Wednesday extended all possible humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan facing severe life and property losses due to extreme natural disasters.
The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and the Services Chiefs expressed their deepest condolences over tragic loss of precious lives and damage to infrastructure due to earthquake and torrential floods in various areas of Afghanistan, said an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) news release.
“AFs of Pakistan are ready to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan”, it said.
Pope offers prayers for quake victims
Pope Francis offered prayers Wednesday for the victims of a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan that the country's supreme leader said had killed at least 300 people and injured hundreds more.
"I express my closeness with the injured and those who were affected by the earthquake," the 85-year-old pontiff said at the end of his weekly audience at the Vatican.
"And I pray in particular for those who have lost their lives and their families," the head of the global Catholic Church said.
"I hope that with everyone's help, the suffering of the dear Afghan people can be alleviated."
The Argentine pontiff also expressed his "sorrow and dismay" for the murder this week of two "Jesuit brothers" and a layman at their church in Mexico.
The two priests and a man seeking sanctuary at their church in Chihuahua state were shot dead on Monday, the government and the religious order said on Tuesday.
"So many killings in Mexico," said Francis, himself a Jesuit, offering "affection and prayer to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy".
"Once again I repeat that violence does not resolve problems, but increases unneccessary suffering," he concluded.
Reporter Farhat Ullah Babar
With inputs from AFP.