June 22 (UPI) — A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing and injuring hundreds of people, according to state-run Bakhtar news agency.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor struck at a depth of 6.2 miles about 28.5 miles southwest of the city of Khost, located near the Pakistan border. The USGS had originally reported the shock as a magnitude 6.1.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department said the quake hit at 1:24 a.m.
“The situation is quite critical,” Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told NBC News. “Hundreds of houses are collapsed and we expect heavy human losses and serious damage to the infrastructure.”
Karimi called the earthquake “severe” in a tweet and urged all aid agencies to deploy to the area “to prevent further catastrophe.”
Another spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said an emergency meeting was convened at the presidential palace in Kabul, where officials ordered funds for those impacted.
“It was instructed that air and land transport should be used for the delivery of food, clothing, medicine and other necessities and transport of the injured,” he tweeted.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his condolences online.
“Deeply grieved to learn about earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in loss of innocent lives,” he tweeted. “People in Pakistan share the grief & sorrow of their Afghan brethren.