Afghanistan Earthquake Kills 1,000 People and Injures at Least 1,500 Others Near Pakistan

The 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck southeast of the city of Khost near the Pakistan border

A major earthquake has hit Afghanistan, killing 1,000 people and wounding at least 1,500, authorities have announced.

On Wednesday, the 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck southeast of Khost, the capital city of the country's Khost Province, near its shared border with neighboring Pakistan. The United States Geological Survey reports the quake had a depth of six miles.

A death toll of 1,000 and count of 1,500 injuries were reported by the Associated Press via Afghanistan's state-run Bakhtar news agency; The New York Times cited deputy minister of disaster management Sharafuddin Muslim in sharing the same numbers. Reuters reports that the death toll is expected to rise as more information comes in from remote villages in the area.

The earthquake is one of the deadliest Afghanistan has experienced in decades, according to CNN. The death toll released by the country's state-run news agency already equates the death toll of a 2002 quake that struck shortly after the United States-led invasion toppled the Taliban government, according to the AP. The agency reported that Wednesday's quake and the 2002 earthquake are the deadliest since a 6.1 magnitude quake in the northeast of Afghanistan killed thousands in 1998.

Bakhtar News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan's disaster management ministry said most of the deaths caused by the quake were in the country's Paktika province, south of Khost and Kabul, the country's capital, according to CNN.

The United Nations secretary general's deputy special representative for Afghanistan, Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, wrote on Twitter that the U.N. and its office for humanitarian affairs in the country are "assessing the needs and responding in the aftermath of the earthquake last night which has taken hundreds of lives."

Bakhtar News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

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"Our condolences to the families of [the] deceased," Alakbarov continued. "Response is on its way."

Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense posted on Twitter that it sent seven helicopters "with medical teams and first aid" to areas affected by the quake to "transport and treat the injured."

The earthquake comes less than a year after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan as the U.S. military left the country in August 2021; 20 million Afghans are currently experiencing acute hunger, according to CNN, which cited a U.N. report from May.

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