At least 1,000 people were killed following a 6.1 magnitude earthquake in the Middle East.
A Taliban government spokesman said the death toll rose from its previous count of 300 to 1,000 as more information became available from the rural areas of the Paktika and Khost provinces, both of which were hit hard by the earthquake.
Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, head of the government media and information center, issued a statement on-camera in which he confirmed at least 500 more individuals were injured during the natural disaster.
NBC News noted that it was unable to independently verify the number of casualties in its report.
“The situation is quite critical,” Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told NBC News about the situation early Wednesday morning. “Hundreds of houses are collapsed and we expect heavy human losses and serious damage to the infrastructure.”
Karimi added that Taliban officials believe hundreds of people are still believed to be trapped under the destruction brought on by the earthquake and rescue efforts have been launched, though some areas affected by the natural disaster are in remote locations.
“In this critical situation, we appeal to the international community and philanthropist organizations to come forward and help the Afghan people,” Karimi said.