Strong earthquakes hit western Afghanistan and the death toll rises to more than 2,000 people

Mohsen Karimi/AFP/Getty Images

Residents sit in a damaged house after an earthquake in Sarbuland village in Zinda Jan, Herat Province, on October 7, 2023.


The Taliban announced on Sunday that about 2,000 people were killed after a strong earthquake struck western Afghanistan, while the country is suffering from another natural disaster at a time when it is suffering from a deep economic crisis.

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of the city of Herat in western Herat province – the third largest earthquake in Afghanistan.

Abdul Wahid Rayan, a senior Taliban official from the Ministry of Information and Culture, told CNN that their estimate was that nearly 2,000 people were killed. But he warned that this number may rise as rescue operations continue and people are still trapped under the rubble.

The initial earthquake was felt by residents of neighboring Badghis and Farah provinces, followed by several aftershocks.

Previous reviews From the United Nations it was It indicated a smaller toll of about 100 dead and 500 wounded. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said nearly 500 homes were destroyed and 135 buildings damaged.

“In total, 4,200 people (600 families) have been assessed as affected so far,” OCHA said.

The images showed huge piles of rubble and rubble after the buildings collapsed. Crowds of Survivors They gathered in the streets in search of safety.

The United Nations said that “Mahal and Dekka are the village most affected,” noting that at least 20 people were killed. She added that other severely affected areas include Dasht-e Hos, Badurzai, Zorian and Kishkak.

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“In addition, reports indicate that an estimated 300 families (about 2,100 people) have been displaced to Herat city, where they are living in abandoned buildings.”

Mohsen Karimi/AFP/Getty Images

Residents remove rubble from a damaged house.

Afghanistan has suffered massive damage from a recent series of earthquakes amid ongoing economic and hunger crises, killing and displacing tens of thousands combined.

The country has long been one of Asia’s poorest and has been torn by conflict for decades. But its ability to respond to natural disasters has been further hampered since the Taliban seized power in 2021 following a chaotic US withdrawal, an event that saw several international aid organizations pull out.

This also led Washington and its allies to freeze about $7 billion of the country’s foreign reserves and cut off international financing. This situation has paralyzed an economy that already relies heavily on aid.

Last week, the World Bank warned that two-thirds of Afghan families are currently facing…Significant challenges in maintaining their livelihoods“.

This makes it difficult for Afghans to recover from earthquakes, which are a regular phenomenon in a country that is often subject to seismic activity.

Deadly earthquake in He walks It struck northeastern Afghanistan, forcing residents to flee their homes after destroying entire buildings and causing devastating landslides.

The tremors were also felt in many major Pakistani cities and as far away as the Indian capital, New Delhi.

a 5.9 magnitude earthquake Last June, more than a thousand people were killed in the eastern provinces of Paktika and Khost, bordering Pakistan, prompting relief groups to rush to reach victims and survivors in areas suffering from poor infrastructure.

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The earthquake coincided with heavy monsoon rains and winds that greatly hampered search efforts and helicopter travel.

And a 5.6 magnitude earthquake On January 17, 2022, it struck Badghis, another western province near Herat on the border with Turkmenistan, killing more than 20 people and reducing hundreds of brick homes to rubble.

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