A powerful earthquake struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, killing at least 920 people and injuring hundreds.
The disaster, with a magnitude of 5.9, occurred near the border with Pakistan.
The government called on relief agencies "to provide immediate aid to the victims".
We take stock.
What happened ?
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 occurred at a depth of 10 km, around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the American Seismological Institute (USGS).
Then, a second earthquake of magnitude 4.5 hit almost the same place at the same time.
The earthquake was felt in several provinces in the south-east of the country and in the capital Kabul located about 200 km north of its epicenter.
It was also in neighboring Pakistan.
Photos posted on social networks show collapsed houses in the province of Paktika in the south-east of the country, a rural region, poor and difficult to access.
Videos also show residents of the affected areas loading the wounded into a helicopter.
Afghan officials said 280 people lost their lives & 397 inured in Paktika & Khost provinces of last night earthquake.
They said death toll could rise as several mud houses are collapsed in rural areas of the two provinces.
— Mushtaq Yusufzai (@MYusufzai) June 22, 2022
“We call on aid agencies to provide immediate aid to the victims of the earthquake in order to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” deputy government spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was "deeply saddened" by this tragedy and indicated that the Pakistani authorities were working to support their Afghan counterparts.
For its part, the UN announced that it had deployed teams to assess the extent of the damage in several of the affected areas.
From the Vatican, Pope Francis expressed his "sympathy" to the victims.
Authorities report at least 920 dead and 600 injured, but the toll could rise in the coming hours as people are still trapped under the rubble of their demolished homes.
Many of the injured came from Giyan district in the southeast of the country and were taken to hospital by ambulances and helicopters.
“Much of the region is mountainous and travel is difficult.
It will take time to transport the dead and injured,” said Minister of Natural Disasters Mohammad Abbas Akhund.
Limited in number and capacity for a long time, the emergency services in Afghanistan are unsuited to dealing alone with a major natural disaster.
“The government is doing the best it can,” said Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official.
“We hope that the international community and humanitarian organizations will also help people in this terrible situation.
2/2- The government is working within its capabilities.
We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation.
— Anas Haqqani(انس حقاني) (@AnasHaqqani313) June 22, 2022
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range which lies at the junction between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
These disasters can be particularly devastating due to the weak resilience of rural Afghan homes.
In October 2015, a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hit the Hindu Kush range, straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing more than 380 people in these two countries.
Among the Afghan victims were 12 young girls, trampled in a panic as they tried to get out of their tottering school.
Since coming to power in Kabul last August, Afghanistan has been plunged into a serious financial and humanitarian crisis, caused in particular by the sudden halt in international aid which has carried the country at arm's length for 20 years, and which now comes back to the dropper.