Earthquake hit Afghanistan: The death toll from Saturday’s magnitude 6.3 earthquake in western Afghanistan has risen to “about 120” and more than 1,000 people are being treated for injuries, disaster officials said. The US Geological Survey said the epicenter was 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Herat, the region’s largest city, and was followed by eight aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 4.3 to 6.3.
“So far we have more than 1,000 injured women, children and elderly people on our records, and about 120 people have lost their lives,” Herat provincial disaster management chief Mosa Ashari told AFP.
A large number of residents fled buildings in Herat neighborhood 11 (0630 GMT) when the earthquake struck. “We were in the office when the building suddenly started shaking,” Bashir Ahmad, 45, told AFP.
“The plaster of the walls started crumbling, there were cracks in the walls, some walls and parts of the buildings collapsed,” he said. “I can’t contact my family and the internet is down. I’m so worried and scared and it’s so scary.”
After the first quake, men, women and children lined wide streets away from tall buildings, still afraid to return home as aftershocks continued for hours. “The situation is very scary, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said 21-year-old student Idre Arsal, who was the last to safely evacuate her classroom when the quake struck.
“Buried Under the Ruins”
Earlier on Saturday night, disaster management spokesman Mullah Jan Sayek told AFP the death toll was expected to “rise significantly”. “There were areas that completely collapsed and all the houses were damaged,” he said. “People are still buried under the rubble. Aid organizations are working to reach the area. “
According to preliminary estimates by the US Geological Survey, hundreds of people may have died.
“There could be significant losses and the disaster could spread. Incidents at this alert level have occurred in the past and required a regional or national response,” it said.
The USGS previously reported that the first quake had a magnitude of 6.2. Its depth is said to be only 14 kilometers. Herat is located 120 kilometers east of the Iranian border and is considered the cultural capital of Afghanistan.
It is the capital of Herat Province, with a population of approximately 1.9 million according to 2019 World Bank data. Afghanistan is frequently affected by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush Mountains, which are located near the intersection of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Last June, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit impoverished Paktika province, Afghanistan’s worst in nearly 25 years, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. In March of this year, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck near Yolma in northeastern Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing 13 people.
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Since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, Afghanistan has been plunged into a severe humanitarian crisis, with foreign aid widely withdrawn.