A powerful earthquake hit a rural, mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday. The state-run news agency said the quake killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 more. Officials also warned that the number is expected to rise.

    It was the deadliest quake in Afghanistan for 20 years. In March 2002, a total of 1,100 were killed after the earthquakes in the Hindu Kush area.
    这是阿富汗20年来最致命的地震。2002年3月,兴都库什地区发生地震后,共有 1100 人丧生。

    Wednesday's disaster is a major test for the Taliban-led government. The group seized power last year after the U.S. and NATO allies pulled out of the country.

    Rescuers arrived at the area by helicopter. But the rescue operation is likely to be difficult without international assistance.

    The Taliban's supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzadah rarely appears in public. On Wednesday, he called for "the international community and all humanitarian organizations to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort to help the affected people."

    Neighboring Pakistan's Meteorological Department said the quake's center was in Afghanistan's Paktika area. That is about 50 kilometers southwest of the city of Khost. Buildings were damaged in Khost and tremors were felt about 375 kilometers away in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
    邻国巴基斯坦的气象部门表示,震中位于阿富汗的帕克蒂卡地区。这里位于霍斯特市西南约 50 公里处。霍斯特市的建筑物遭到破坏,375公里以外的巴基斯坦首都伊斯兰堡也有震感。

    There is still little information on Wednesday's 6.1 magnitude quake. But quakes of that strength can cause serious damage in an area where homes and other buildings are poorly made. There are also landslides in the area.

    Images from Paktika showed men carrying people in blankets to helicopters. Others were treated on the ground. Some images showed people looking through bricks and stones from destroyed houses, many of which had collapsed roofs or walls.

    Robert Saunders is a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He said an earthquake of that size would not create so much destruction in most places in the world. But a quake's damage often depends on geography, building quality and population density.

    "Because of the mountainous area, there are rockslides and landslides that we won't know about until later reporting. Older buildings are likely to crumble and fail," Saunders said.

    In Kabul, Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund organized an emergency meeting to plan a recovery effort. And a Taliban official added, "When such a big incident happens in any country, there is a need for help from other countries."

    A U.N. official in Afghanistan said that help is on its way but that may be difficult. Many international aid groups had left the country following the U.S. exit because of concerns about security and the Taliban's poor human rights record.

    The Italian medical aid group Emergency still operates in Afghanistan. The organization said it sent seven ambulances and workers to the areas closest to the earthquake. And Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif of neighboring Pakistan said his nation would provide help.

    I'm Dan Novak.