Rescuers have been arriving in Paktika province by helicopter. Image Credit: AFGHAN GOVERNMENT NEWS AGENCY
Rescuers have been arriving in Paktika province by helicopter. Image Credit: AFGHAN GOVERNMENT NEWS AGENCY

A powerful earthquake has killed at least 280 people and left scores injured in Afghanistan, according to the country’s state news agency.

Pictures shared on social media showed people on stretchers, rubble and ruined homes in the eastern Paktika province.

A report by the Bakhtar News Agency said the death toll was likely to rise, adding more than 600 people were injured.

The quake struck about 44km (27 miles) from the south-eastern city of Khost.

“Unfortunately, last night there was a severe earthquake in four districts of Paktika province, which killed and injured hundreds of our countrymen and destroyed dozens of houses,” government spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted.

“We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

Pictures from Paktika province show extensive destruction to buildings. Photo Credit: AFGHAN GOVERNMENT NEWS AGENCY

Tremors were felt across more than 500km of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, quoted by Reuters.

The centre said that witnesses had reported feeling the quake in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, as well as Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

However, there have been no immediate reports of casualties, and the earthquake caused barely any damage there, according to BBC Urdu.

Footage shows people brought onto stretchers. Photo Credit: AFGHAN GOVERNMENT NEWS AGENCY

The earthquake – which hit during the early hours as many people slept – was a magnitude 6.1 quake at a depth of some 51km, according to the US Geological Survey.

Earthquakes can cause significant damage in Afghanistan, particularly in the many rural areas where many dwellings are not as stable or well-built.

Afghanistan is also prone to quakes, as it’s located in a seismically active region, over a number of fault lines including the Chaman fault, the Hari Rud fault, the Central Badakhshan fault and the Darvaz fault.

In the past 10 years, more than 7,000 people have been killed in earthquakes in the country, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports. There are average 560 deaths a year from earthquakes.