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Strong earthquake in Afghanistan kills more than 1,000 people, injures hundreds

Strong earthquake in Afghanistan kills more than 1,000 people, injures hundreds
An injured boy receives treatment at a hospital in Paktia, Afghanistan, on Wednesday after the region was shaken by a strong earthquake that officials say killed hundreds of people. Photo by EPA-EFE

June 22 (UPI) -- A strong earthquake in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday killed more than 1,000 people and injured hundreds of others, officials said.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 5.9-magnitude quake struck early Wednesday and a second quake with a magnitude of 4.5 was measured just southwest of Khost.

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Disaster management deputy Mawlawi Sharafuddin Muslim told reporters that the government will provide aid to the victims' families. The government also called for international support.

One government official said that more than 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 were injured. Crews are searching for survivors.

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Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, United Nations special representative to Afghanistan, tweeted that the U.N. is "assessing the aftermath" and offered condolences for families of the victims.

The USGS said the quake struck at a depth of 6.2 miles about 28 miles southwest of Khost near the Pakistan border. The USGS originally reported the magnitude was 6.1.

"The situation is quite critical," Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told NBC News. "Hundreds of houses are collapsed and we expect heavy human losses and serious damage to the infrastructure."

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Karimi called the earthquake "severe" in a tweet and urged aid agencies to deploy to the area "to prevent further catastrophe."

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Another spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said an emergency meeting was convened at the presidential palace in Kabul and officials ordered funds for the victims.

"It was instructed that air and land transport should be used for the delivery of food, clothing, medicine and other necessities and transport of the injured," he tweeted.

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"Deeply grieved to learn about earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in loss of innocent lives," Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted. "People in Pakistan share the grief & sorrow of their Afghan brethren.

"Relevant authorities working to support Afghanistan in this time of need."

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