Afghan earthquake: 1,000 people killed and 1,500 wounded, official says
The country's deadliest quake in two decades struck overnight as many people slept in their beds.
A powerful earthquake has killed one thousand people and left hundreds more injured in Afghanistan, a Taliban official has told the BBC.
Pictures show landslides and ruined mud-built homes in eastern Paktika province, where rescuers have been scrambling to treat the injured.
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said hundreds of houses were destroyed and the death toll was likely to rise.
It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades.
The head of information for Paktika province, Mohammad Amin Hazifi, told the BBC that 1,000 people had died and 1,500 are injured.
Rescue teams are still searching for others buried under the ground, he added.
The earthquake struck about 44km (27 miles) from the south-eastern city of Khost shortly after 01:30 local time (21:00 Tuesday GMT), when many people were asleep at home.
"Every street you go, you hear people mourning the deaths of their beloved ones. Houses are ruined," a local journalist in badly-hit Paktika province said to the BBC.
Earthquakes tend to cause significant damage in Afghanistan, where dwellings in many rural areas are unstable or poorly built.
Local farmer Alem Wafa cried as he told the BBC that official rescue teams are yet to reach the remote village of Gyan - one of the worst hit.
"There are no official aid workers, but people from neighbouring cities and villages came here to rescue people. I arrived this morning, and I - myself - found 40 dead bodies."
He continued: "Most of them are young, very young children. There is a hospital here. But it can't deal with this disaster. It doesn't have the capacity."
Taliban officials called for aid agencies to rush to the affected areas in the nation's east.
Decades of conflict have made it difficult for the impoverished country to improve its protections against earthquakes and other natural disasters - despite efforts by aid agencies to reinforce some buildings over the years.
Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's emergency services were stretched to deal with natural disasters - with few aircraft and helicopters available to rescuers.
Communication following the quake is difficult because of damage to mobile phone towers and the death toll could rise further still, another local journalist in the area told the BBC.
"Many people are not aware of the well-being of their relatives because their phones are not working," he said. "My brother and his family died, and I just learned it after many hours. Many villages have been destroyed."
In remote areas, helicopters have been ferrying victims to hospitals.
Speaking to the BBC, a doctor from one of the worst hit districts in Paktika province said medical workers were among the victims.
"We didn't have enough people and facilities before the earthquake, and now the earthquake has ruined the little we had," they said. "I don't know how many of our colleagues are still alive."