Death toll rises to 920 after major quake hits Afghanistan (2nd lead)


Kabul, June 22

The death toll from the earthquake that struck Afghanistan's two eastern provinces early on Wednesday jumped to 920, Afghan state-run media reported. Deputy State Minister for Natural Disaster Management in Taliban-led government, Mawlavi Sharfuddin, said in a press conference that 920 people were killed and 610 others injured in the quake, the state-run Bakhtar News Agency said in a tweet.

The casualties were reported from Barmal, Ziruk, Naka and Gayan districts of Paktika province. Helicopters and rescue teams have arrived in the affected areas from neighbouring provinces and Kabul.

The Gayan district was the worst-hit area in Paktika, the news agency reported, adding that the quake has destroyed and damaged scores of houses in the region and also caused land sliding in Paktika.

The number of casualties might rise as dozens were still trapped under the debris.

The quake jolted in mountainous areas and the authorities dispatched seven helicopters with life-saving equipment and medical personnel to the area, while medical and rescue teams were also on the way to the affected areas.

Hours after the quake, acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a tweet by Akhund's office.

The acting Prime Minister has expressed sorrow over the loss of lives following the quake and expressed condolences to people who lost their relatives. "The meeting has ordered all concerned agencies to rush to the spot immediately. Use all available resources to save the lives of the affected people and provide all necessary assistance."

The quake, with a magnitude of around 6, jolted 44 km southwest of Khost, according to the US Geological Survey.


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