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Hundreds reportedly killed in an earthquake in Afghanistan

Local residents stand near a damaged house at Qadis district in Afghanistan's western Badghis Province, on January 18, 2022, after an earthquake hit the region. - Survivors of twin earthquakes in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 people said on January 18 they had to spend the night without shelter in plummeting temperatures, after hundreds of buildings were damaged in the tremor. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by STRINGER has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Qadis, Afghanistan] instead of Al Qadisiyah, Iraq]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
Local residents stand near a damaged house at Qadis district in Afghanistan's western Badghis Province, on January 18, 2022, after an earthquake hit the region. - Survivors of twin earthquakes in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 people said on January 18 they had to spend the night without shelter in plummeting temperatures, after hundreds of buildings were damaged in the tremor. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by STRINGER has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [Qadis, Afghanistan] instead of Al Qadisiyah, Iraq]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Hundreds of people have been buried under rubble and many feared dead –– after a powerful earthquake shook parts of eastern Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.

The Taliban's state-run news agency says more than 250 people have been killed. It was not possible to immediately confirm that number, because the earthquake hit remote areas.

The hardest hit areas were remote farming villages in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. Authorities had to dispatch rescue workers by helicopter to dig people out.

A video shared by the news agency featured a man pointing at homes around him in the early light. He says: there's five people buried under that house; 6 people under that house; there's 13 dead bodies under that building.

Another man in a neighboring province told NPR they were hearing reports that dozens of people had been buried under their homes – and were feared dead – in other remote villages near the Pakistani border.

The earthquake comes as a hunger crisis grips Afghanistan: around half the population of 40 million people need food aid to avert starvation, and the U.N. reports that nearly 95% of Afghans are not eating enough.

Another massive earthquake previously struck the country in 2015, where more than 300 people died and more than 2,000 were injured.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.