afghanistan, already in grip of a dire humanitarian crisis, reels from quake
Rescuers in Afghanistan have been scrabbling for survivors among the ruins of villages flattened in Saturday’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake, followed by eight strong aftershocks.
As the extent of the damage became clearer, Deputy Government spokesperson Bilal Karimi told Agence France-Presse early on Sunday: “The death toll is more than 1,000 people.”
However, an unnamed Taliban spokesperson told the Associated Press on Sunday the figure was nearly 2,000. The number of casualties is expected to rise as rescue work continues.
600 Houses Damaged In Afghanistan Herat Quake: WHO
The powerful tremor jolted hard-to-reach areas 30 km from the provincial capital of Herat, razing rural homes to the ground and sending panicked Afghans rushing into the streets.
As night fell on Saturday, an AFP reporter saw dozens of houses destroyed near the epicentre of the quakes, which shook the area for more than five hours.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 600 houses had been destroyed or partially damaged across at least 12 villages in Herat, with some 4,200 people affected.
Afghanistan Already Reeling From A Humanitarian Crisis
“In the very first shake all the houses collapsed,” said 42-year-old resident Bashir Ahmad. “There are families we have heard no news from.”
Afghanistan is already reeling from a humanitarian crisis, with the widespread withdrawal of foreign assistance following the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.
Herat province on the border with Iran has also been hit by a years-long drought that has crippled several already handscrabble agricultural communities.
Afghans Costly Connection With Quakes
Afghanistan is highly vulnerable to seismic activity due to the collision of the Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian plate to the north, sending in critical shockwaves.
Read More: Pakistan Begins Operation to Remove Illegal Afghan
At least 1,000 people lost their lives in a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the impoverished province of Paktika in June last year. It was the deadliest in nearly a quarter of a century.
Read More: Pak-Afghan border to reopen as both sides reach an agreement
While a tremor killed around 1,000 people in northern Afghanistan in 2002, a 6.1 magnitude quake killed at least 4,500 in the country in 1998.