Islamabad - The death toll continues to rise following a powerful earthquake in Afghanistan.
Taliban authorities said Wednesday quake had killed more than 900 people and injured at least 600 others in the country's southeast. Deputy Taliban Minister for Disaster Management Mawlawi Sharafuddin Muslim released the number of casualties at a news conference in the capital, Kabul, citing initial reports.
He said most of the devastation occurred in southeastern Paktika and Khost provinces, which border Pakistan.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude 6.1 quake struck during the early hours of Wednesday about 44 kilometers from the provincial capital of Khost.
Videos shared on social media showed flattened homes and rubble. The earthquake also rattled the capital, Kabul.
Taliban authorities said people were still under the rubble and rescue efforts, backed by helicopters, were underway. They also urged all aid organizations working in Afghanistan to help in the rescue operations. Ramiz Alakbarov, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, tweeted that his mission was "assessing the needs and responding in the aftermath of the earthquake last night which has taken hundreds of lives."
Tremors were reportedly felt across more than 500 kilometers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre. Residents in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and the northwestern city, Peshawar, also felt the tremors but there were no immediate reports of casualties. Islamabad extended condolences and sympathies to Afghanistan over the devastation caused by the earthquake.
"Our authorities and institutions are working to extend required assistance to Afghanistan in coordination with their relevant institutions," said Pakistani foreign ministry statement.