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The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan hit 1,000; disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured.

The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan hit 1,000; disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured. The toll is expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages. A foreign ministry spokesman said the Taliban would welcome international help. Houses were reduced to rubble and bodies swathed in blankets lay on the ground. The magnitude 6.1 earthquake, photographs on Afghan media showed. An unknown number of people remained stuck under rubble and in outlying areas, health and aid workers said. And rescue operations were complicated by difficult conditions including heavy rains, landslides, and many villages being nestled in inaccessible hillside areas. Many people are still buried under the soil. The rescue teams of the Islamic Emirate have arrived. And with the help of local people are trying to take out the dead and injured. A health worker at a hospital in the hard-hit Paktika province said.

The UN humanitarian office said it was deploying medical health teams and providing medical supplies.

Mounting a rescue operation will prove a major test for the hard-line Islamist Taliban authorities. They took over the country last August after two decades of war. They have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions. The Taliban-led ministry of defense is leading rescue efforts. The roads are poor even at the best of times so having a humanitarian operation put in place is going to be immediately challenged by the lack of easy access to the area. Rain combined with the tremor created a further risk of landslides for humanitarian workers. The UN humanitarian office said it was deploying medical health teams and providing medical supplies. Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said the death toll was likely to rise. As some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details.

By Ram

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