The quake struck at 1:24 am, 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) southwest of the city of Khost, which is near the country’s border with Pakistan, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to the US Geological Survey, which has set a yellow quake alert level — indicating a relatively local impact.
Bakhtar reported that casualties were reported in Barmal, Ziruk, Neka and Jayan districts of Paktika state, with more than 600 injured.
Local officials and residents warned that the death toll could rise, according to Bukhar. The full numbers of the victims are not yet clear, and CNN cannot independently confirm Bakhtar’s reports.
Pictures from Paktika state, just south of Khost state, show destroyed houses, one or two walls still standing amid the rubble and broken ceiling beams.
Najibullah Saeed, an Afghan Water Resources Department expert, said the quake coincided with heavy monsoon rains in the area – making traditional homes, many made of clay and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.
“The timing of the earthquake (in) the darkness of the night … and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers from its epicenter led to a greater number of casualties,” he added.
Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Taliban, said the quake was “severe” and asked relief agencies to “send urgent teams” to the affected area.
The World Health Organization said in a tweet on Wednesday that its teams are on the ground to respond to emergencies, including providing medicines, casualty services and conducting needs assessments.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif offered his condolences and offered his support in a tweet on Twitter on Wednesday. “Very sad to learn more about the earthquake that struck Afghanistan, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives,” he wrote. “The people of Pakistan share their grief and sorrow with their Afghan brothers. The relevant authorities are working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.”
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