Survivors have been digging by hand in eastern Afghanistan villages after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least 1,000.
The powerful quake was the deadliest to hit Afghanistan in two decades and officials said the death toll could rise further.
An estimated 1,500 other were injured, according to the state-run Bakhtar news agency, and rescuers have been arriving by helicopter in Paktika, some 100 miles south of the capital Kabul, to provide assistance.
In Paktika province’s hard-hit Gayan district, villagers stood on top of the mud bricks that was once a home, while others carefully walked through dirt alleyways, gripping on to damaged walls with exposed timber beams to make their way.
The earthquake struck the east of the country early on Wednesday morning local time about 27 miles (44km) from the city of Khost, close to the country’s border with Pakistan, and was at a depth of 31.6 miles (51km), according to the US Geological Survey.
Which areas did the earthquake hit?
Neighbouring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department put the earthquake at a magnitude 6.1, with tremors felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern Punjab province.
The European seismological agency (EMSC) said the earthquake’s tremors were felt over 310 miles by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
“Strong and long jolts,” a resident of the Afghan capital, Kabul, posted on the website of the EMSC, while a resident of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar wrote “It was strong”.
Photographs on Afghan media showed houses reduced to rubble and bodies covered in blankets on the ground.
The tremors extended to the Afghan capital Kabul, as well as Islamabad in Pakistan, according to witness accounts posted on the EMSC website and by Twitter users.
The EMSC said on Twitter that shaking was felt by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, but there were no immediate reports of casualties in Pakistan.
Some remote areas of Pakistan saw reports of damage to homes near the Afghan border, but it was not immediately clear if this was due to rain or the earthquake, Taimoor Khan, a disaster management spokesperson in the area, said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif offered his condolences over the earthquake, saying his nation will provide help to the Afghan people.
How many people have been injured?
It has been confirmed that at least 1,000 people have died as a result of the quake, while a further 1,500 people have been left injued, according to an Afghan emergency official said.
Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said the majority of the fatalities were in the province of Paktika, the epicentre of the earthquake.
“The death toll is likely to rise as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details,” Mr Ayubi added.
He said authorities had launched a rescue operation and helicopters were being used to reach the injured and take in medical supplies and food.
The UN resident co-ordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, confirmed that the “response is on its way”, while the Afghan Red Crescent Society confirmed that it had sent 4,000 blanket, 800 tents and 800 kitchen kits to the area affected.
Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistan border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area, while images circulating online showed destroyed stone houses, with residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble.
Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, wrote on Twitter: “A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses.
“We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”
From Kabul, Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund convened an emergency meeting at the Presidential Palace to coordinate the relief effort for victims in Paktika and Khost.
The UN’s resident coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, expressed condolences to the victims and said that the world body’s agencies were responding to the earthquake’s devastation. He wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “Response is on its way”.