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Afghanistan earthquake kills at least 255 people

Afghanistan’s state-run news agency says at least 255 people have been killed in an earthquake that struck the country’s eastern Paktika province.

The state-run Bakhtar news agency reported the death toll Wednesday and said rescuers were arriving by helicopter.

Information remained scarce on the magnitude 6 temblor that struck Paktika province, but it comes as the international community largely has left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last year amid the chaotic withdrawal of the U.S. military from the longest war in its history.

“A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses,” Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government, wrote on Twitter. “We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

Neighboring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department put the earthquake at a magnitude 6.1. Tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the eastern Punjab province.

The European seismological agency, EMSC, said the earthquake’s tremors were felt over 500 kilometres (310 miles) by 119 million people across Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

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