Red Crescent worker responding to earthquake in Afghanistan, walking towards a crowd around a helicopter
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More Than 1,000 Feared Dead In Devastating Earthquake In Afghanistan

More than 1,000 are feared dead and more than 1,500 injured after an earthquake struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight, the BBC reported, making it the deadliest quake to strike the nation in two decades.

Officials expect the toll to rise as well, as rescuers are still in the process of digging through the rubble of scores of buildings destroyed by the quake.

The full scale of the Afghanistan earthquake remains unclear as of yet.

Per the US Geological Survey, the earthquake registered a 6.1 magnitude at a depth of 10 km, and caught most people sleeping, as it struck at about 1:30 am local time.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre also reported that the quake was felt by 119 million people throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

Early reports suggest that entire villages have been destroyed by the earthquake.

"Every street you go, you hear people mourning the deaths of their beloved ones. Houses are ruined," one local journalist told the BBC.

"Many people are not aware of the well-being of their relatives because their phones are not working," another said. "My brother and his family died, and I just learned it after many hours. Many villages have been destroyed."

Relief efforts may be hampered by Afghanistan's political situation.

As state-run news agency Bakhtar reported, helicopters and ambulances were dispatched from the capital to tend to the wounded, but in some areas, medical workers were among the victims of the quake.

And although the Taliban government has asked the international community for help with the earthquake, international aid groups largely left the nation after the Taliban took power in 2021.

Nevertheless, several aid agencies have said they intend to step up to help the wounded as much as they can.

Ramiz Alakbarov, the World Health Organization’s general director, tweeted that the UN's humanitarian affairs were "assessing the needs and responding to the aftermath of the earthquake," and that "more help is being mobilized."

Italian medical aid group Emergency also signaled its intent to aid relief efforts, according to The Washington Post.

Afghanistan is prone to earthquakes, and due to poor construction and decades of conflict, death tolls from natural disasters tend to be high.

As the BBC reported, an average of 560 people die from earthquakes each year in Afghanistan. However, no single earthquake has claimed as many lives as this most recent temblor since 1998, when a magnitude 6.1 quake killed 4,500 people.

h/t: BBC