A powerful earthquake has killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban appealed for international help for the rescue effort as pictures showed landslides and ruined mud-built homes in the province of Paktika.

Hundreds of houses were destroyed by the magnitude 6.1 event, which occurred at a depth of 51km (32 miles).

It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades and a major challenge for the Taliban, the Islamist movement which regained power last year after the Western-backed government collapsed.

The earthquake struck about 44km from the city of Khost and tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan and India. Witnesses reported feeling the quake in both Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.

Taliban officials asked the UN to “support them in terms of assessing the needs and responding to those affected”, Sam Mort from Unicef’s Kabul unit told the BBC.

The UK’s special representative to Afghanistan, Nigel Casey, said the UK was in touch with the UN and was “ready to contribute to the international response”.

Earthquakes tend to cause significant damage in Afghanistan, where dwellings in many rural areas are unstable or poorly built.

Credit: BBC

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