KABUL, TGO: An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing at least 255 people, according to reports.
The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll and said rescuers were arriving by helicopter. The news agency’s director-general, Abdul Wahid Rayan, wrote on Twitter that 90 houses have been destroyed in Paktika and dozens of people are believed trapped under the rubble.
Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistan border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area. Images widely circulating online from the province showed destroyed stone houses, with residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble.
“A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses,” Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, separately wrote on Twitter. “We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”
Neighboring Pakistan Meteorological Department put the earthquake at a magnitude 6.1. Tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern Punjab province.
The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake tremors were felt over 500 kilometers (310 miles) by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.