Speed Reads

Nature's Terrors

More than 920 dead in Afghanistan earthquake, officials say

A powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan killed more than 920 people and injured at least 600 more early Wednesday, Taliban officials said. Most of the damage from the 6.1 magnitude earthquake was in Paktika and Khost provinces, near the Pakistan border, and officials said they expect the death toll to rise. It was felt as far away as Kabul, the capital, as well as Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, BBC News reports

Photos areas hit by the temblor show landslides and crumbled mud-brick houses, with rescue workers struggling to treat the injured and helicopters evacuating victims from remote areas to hospitals. "Rescue efforts are likely to be complicated since many international aid agencies left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last year," after U.S. forces withdrew, The Associated Press reports. Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, urged "all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe."

Afghanistan sits on a number of active faults, and earthquakes tend to cause significant damage when they hit due to unstable or poorly built dwellings, BBC News reports. "In the past 10 years, more than 7,000 people have been killed in earthquakes in the country, the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports. There are an average of 560 deaths a year from earthquakes."