According to a Taliban spokesman who spoke to the BBC, a strong earthquake in Afghanistan has killed 1,000 people and injured hundreds more.
In the eastern Paktika province, where rescuers have been rushing to treat the injured, pictures reveal landslides and destroyed mud-built dwellings.
Numerous homes have been damaged, according to Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, and the death toll is certain to climb.
It is the most deadly earthquake to have hit Afghanistan in the previous 20 years.
Mohammad Amin Hazifi, the Paktika province’s information chief, told the BBC that 1,500 people had been hurt and 1,000 had perished.
He stated that rescue workers are still looking for anyone who may be buried underground.
A lot of people were asleep at home when the earthquake occurred, which was located approximately 44 kilometers (27 miles) from the city of Khost in the south-eastern part of Afghanistan.
According to Sam Mort of Unicef’s Kabul office, the Taliban have requested international assistance.
According to Ms. Mort, “the de facto authorities [the Taliban] reached out early this morning requesting the UN family here in Afghanistan to support them in terms of assessing the requirements and providing assistance to individuals affected.”
Nigel Casey, the UK’s special envoy to Afghanistan, stated that his country was in contact with the UN and “prepared to participate to the international response.”
You may hear individuals lamenting the loss of their loved ones on every street you visit. A local journalist in the severely damaged Paktika province told the BBC that “houses are ruined.”
In Afghanistan, where many rural houses are unstable or poorly constructed, earthquakes can cause major damage.
Local farmer Alem Wafa cried as he told the BBC that official rescue crews had yet to reach the distant village of Gyan — one of the worst damaged.
“There are no official aid workers, but people from neighbouring cities and villages came here to rescue people. I arrived this morning, and I – myself – found 40 dead bodies.”
He continued: “Most of them are young, very young children. There is a hospital here. But it can’t deal with this disaster. It doesn’t have the capacity.”