An earthquake in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border has killed at least 920 people and injured over 600 more, according to local officials.

The magnitude 5.9 earthquake damaged buildings in Khost and Paktika provinces, which are in rural, mountainous regions of eastern Afghanistan. The district was already facing economic struggle after the Taliban takeover of the country, and the withdrawal of the United States military from the country after a war that lasted nearly 50 years. Relief efforts were underway to help feed the approximately 1 million people who live in the provinces, which the quake has disrupted.

The two provinces are both impoverished and remote, and have landslide problems year-round. Recent heavy rains have compounded those. Many structures there are built of improvised materials or unmaintained, and damage is heavy.

According to the state-run Bakhtar news agency, the death toll of this earthquake in Afghanistan will probably continue to rise as the missing are unearthed from beneath the rubble.

“We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe,” wrote Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesman for the Taliban government. The Taliban, which replaced Afghanistan’s government in a violent coup that culminated in late 2021, has previously refused many kinds of foreign aid.

The “response is on its way,” the U.N. resident coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, wrote on Twitter. Pakistan, which has reported only mild damage, is also offering help.

This region of Afghanistan has suffered severe earthquakes of similar strength before in recent years. In 1998, a quake killed 4500 people. In 2002, an earthquake of similar strength killed around 1000 people just a little to the west. In 2015, a quake killed more than 200 people in northeast Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

Photos from the Patika region show people being evacuated in helicopters, walking through destroyed concrete buildings, and carrying the wounded out of ruins.

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