A 7.5-magnitude earthquake on Monday has left over 300 people dead and at least 2,000 injured in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the Taliban terror group reportedly asking aid agencies for help.
BBC News reported on Tuesday that that rescue teams are still trying to get to remote mountainous areas in the region and assess its impact, dealing with blocked roads and cut off communication. Many people have also chosen to sleep outside in near freezing temperatures because of fears of a second quake.
The Taliban, which is active in regions across Pakistan and Afghanistan, called on international aid agencies to help the victims, and asked its soldiers to offer assistance as well.
"The Islamic Emirate calls on our good willed countrymen and charitable organizations to not hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims of this earthquake," the Taliban said in a message of condolence to quake victims, Reuters reported.
"And it similarly orders its mujahideen in the affected areas to lend their complete help," it added.
Abdul Habib Sayed Khil, chief of police in Kunar, one of the worst-hit provinces, said that it is hard for aid groups to reach such areas, however.
"We have insufficient food and other aid," Khil said. "It has been raining for four days and the weather is very cold. If we don't provide aid very soon it may turn to another disaster."
Arif Noor, the Pakistan director for the aid group Mercy Corps, added: "Many villages in normal circumstances are one or two hours from proper roads."
He continued: "As you can imagine, reaching those people and helping them out is going to be a major challenge."
CNN noted the epicenter of the quake was in northeastern Afghanistan, but the greatest damage was reported in Pakistan, where at least 229 people were killed.
Noor explained that the quake-hit areas in Pakistan were more densely populated, leading to more deaths.
At least 12 schoolgirls who died in a stampede were among the 76 casualties reported so far in Afghanistan, said the country's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah.
The White House has said it is ready to provide help in the relief efforts.
"We offer our deepest condolences to those who have been affected by the earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at a daily news conference.
"We stand ready to provide any assistance that is needed," he added.
The region has been hard-hit by powerful earthquakes in the past, with a 7.6- magnitude quake in Kashmir in 2005 leaving over 75,000 people dead.
Back in April of this year, a 7.8-magnitude quake in Nepal killed over 9,000 people, with India and Bangladesh also suffering casualties.