Afghan authorities struggled on Thursday to reach a remote area hit by an earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people, but poor communications and a lack of good roads hampered their efforts, officials said.
The earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale struck about 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Kabul early Wednesday, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the Pakistani border.
“We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we are trying to get updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in the hardest-hit province of Paktika, told Reuters news agency, citing telephone networks. . †
The quake killed about 1,000 people and injured more than 1,500, he said. More than 3,000 houses were destroyed.
About 600 people were rescued from several affected areas Wednesday night, he said.
The town of Gayan, close to the epicenter, has suffered significant damage and most of the mud-walled buildings have been damaged or completely collapsed, Reuters reported.
The city was buzzing with Taliban soldiers and ambulances when a helicopter carrying relief supplies landed nearby, stirring up huge clouds of dust. About 300 people sat on the ground waiting for supplies.
The rescue operation will be a major test for the Taliban authorities, who took over the country last August after two decades of war and were cut off from much international aid due to sanctions.
The Taliban-led Ministry of Defense is leading the rescue efforts.