Kabul, Europe Brief News – Nearly 1,000 were killed and 600 wounded after a strong earthquake shakes Afghanistan as the death toll is expected to rise.
Pictures show landslides and ruined mud-built homes in eastern Paktika province, where rescuers have been scrambling to treat the injured.
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said hundreds of houses were destroyed and the death toll was likely to rise.
It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades.
The head of information for Paktika province, Mohammad Amin Hazifi, told the BBC that 1,000 people had died and 1,500 are injured.
Rescue teams are still searching for others buried under the ground, he added.
The earthquake struck about 44km (27 miles) from the south-eastern city of Khost shortly after 01:30 local time (21:00 Tuesday GMT), when many people were asleep at home.
The Taliban has asked for international help, Sam Mort from Unicef’s Kabul unit told the BBC.
“The de facto authorities [Taliban] reached out early this morning asking the UN family here in Afghanistan to support them in terms of assessing the needs and responding to those affected,” Ms Mort said.
The UK’s special representative to Afghanistan, Nigel Casey, said the UK was in touch with the UN and was “ready to contribute to the international response”