Afghan quake claims at least 1 000 lives

An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 killed hundreds of people in Afghanistan early on Wednesday. At least 1 000 died and more than 600 were injured, according to disaster management officials.

The toll is expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages.

Buildings were reduced to rubble and helicopters were deployed in the rescue effort to reach the injured and fly in medical supplies and food.

Wednesday’s quake was the deadliest since 2002.

It struck about 27 miles from the southeastern city of Khost, near the border with Pakistan, the US Geological Survey said.

Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Paktika.

Haibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme leader of the ruling Taliban, offered his condolences in a statement.

Mounting a rescue operation could prove a major test for the Taliban, who took over the country in August and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions.

The disaster comes as Afghanistan grapples with a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took over, as US-led international forces withdrew following two decades of war.

Many nations cut billions of dollars worth of development aid, though international agencies, such as the United Nations, still operate.

A foreign ministry spokesperson said Afghanistan would welcome international help.

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