Afghan authorities scramble to reach earthquake zone, death toll at 1,000

AFP

Afghan authorities struggled on Thursday to reach a remote area hit by an earthquake that killed 1,000 people but poor communications and a lack of proper roads hampered their efforts, officials said.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 160 km, southeast of Kabul, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the border with Pakistan.

"We can't reach the area, the networks are too week, we trying to get updates," Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters, referring to telephone networks.

The earthquake killed some 1,000 people and injured 1,500 injured, he said. More than 3,000 houses were destroyed.

About 600 people had been rescued from various affected areas on Wednesday night, he added.

Afghan media published pictures of houses reduced to rubble and bodies swathed in blankets on the ground in the hours after the earthquake struck.

Accurate information has been limited from remote mountain villages. 

The rescue operation will be a major test for the Taliban authorities, who have appealed for international support.

Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government tweeted they are calling "on all international aid agencies and charities to provide immediate assistance to the victims".

The United Nations, however, said the Taliban hasn't yet formally asked for help.

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