At least one thousand people killed in Afghanistan after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake

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Afghanistan was rocked by its deadliest earthquake in decades on Wednesday: at 1:24 a.m. local time on Wednesday (4:54 p.m. ET on Tuesday) a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the country’s east, killing more than 1,000 people. More than 1,500 were wounded. The earthquake occurred at around 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) southwest of the city of Khost, which lies close to the country’s border with Pakistan, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Paktika. The death toll is expected to rise as search and effort missions continue. Some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details. Many houses were turned to rubble. The earthquake had coincided with heavy monsoon rain in the region, making traditional houses, many made of mud and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.

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The Taliban held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to organize providing transportation to the injured and material aid to the victims and their families. In a tweet on Wednesday, the World Health Organization said its teams were on the ground for emergency response, including providing medicine, trauma services. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif offered his condolences and an offer of support. The U.N.’s office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Afghanistan had asked humanitarian agencies to help with rescue efforts. Previously, more than 1,000 people died in 2002 after two earthquakes in the Nahrin region of northwestern Afghanistan. A powerful earthquake struck the same region in the 1998, killing about 4,700 people. Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.