An early morning, 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit a mountainous region of Eastern Afghanistan. As of mid-morning Wednesday, Afghanistan’s state-run news agency reported 1,000 people were killed in the earthquake with another 1,500 injured. Officials warned that the already grim toll may still rise.
The death toll is equal to that of a quake in 2002 in northern Afghanistan. Both earthquakes are the deadliest since 1998, when another 6.1 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tremors in the remote northeast killed at least 4,500 people.
“When such a big incident happens in any country, there is a need for help from other countries,” Taliban deputy minister for Natural Disaster Ministry Mawlawi Sharafuddin Muslim said Wednesday. “It is very difficult for us to be able to respond to this huge incident, we ask from the international community to cooperate with us and continue their support.”
International aid organizations responded within hours of the earthquake. The World Health Organization’s country office in Afghanistan tweeted that it has sent emergency hits to a hospital treating those injured in the Earthquake. Dr. Ramiz Alabarov, the U.N. resident coordinator in Afghanistan, said teams were delivering first aid to affected areas.
“Our sincere sympathy to all those affected by the earthquake that hit Paktia province, Gayan district. Condolences to families who lost loved ones including children,” UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan Mohamed Ag Ayoya tweeted. “To those injured we wish speedy recovery. @UNICEFAfg teams on ground to support assessments and quick response.”
As of mid-Wednesday morning, neither the State Department nor the White House had commented on the earthquake. A potential U.S. response would be notable as the earthquake comes less than a year after the Taliban took control over Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal of the country.
Most governments are wary of dealing directly with the Taliban, a reluctance that could slow the deployment of emergency aid and teams typically sent after such natural disasters.
The Associated Press is ready to be looked at.