Two 6.3-magnitude quakes have struck western Herat Province, leaving up to 320 people dead and many more hurt or displaced
Western Afghanistan has been shaken by two 6.3-magnitude earthquakes that struck within about 30 minutes of each other, leaving hundreds of people dead or injured and destroying or damaging 600 homes.
The twin quakes occurred on Saturday morning west of Herat City and killed around 320 people, according to an unconfirmed estimate cited by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan. Initial assessment by local authorities pegged the death toll at 100, and at least 500 people were injured.
“Partners and local authorities anticipate the number of casualties to increase as search and rescue efforts continue amid reports that some people may be trapped under collapsed buildings,” the OCHA said. The deaths occurred in eight villages across Herat and Zenda Jan provinces.
Hundreds of families have been displaced by the temblors. An estimated 300 families were taken to Herat City, where they took shelter in abandoned buildings, according to the OCHA. Hundreds of wounded villagers were receiving emergency trauma care at the provincial hospital in Herat City.
There were a number of significant aftershocks in the region, including one that measured at a magnitude of 5.9 and another rated at 5.5 on the Richter scale. “All people are out of their homes,” Herat City resident Abdul Shakor Samadi told the Associated Press. “Houses, offices and shops are all empty, and there are fears of more earthquakes.” He said his family ran outside when the initial quake began and was afraid to go back indoors.
The Afghan earthquakes struck on the same day that 6.9- and 6.7-magnitude quakes hit in Papua New Guinea and a 5.9-magnitude temblor shook southern Mexico. There were no reports of major casualties in Papua New Guinea or Mexico.
Saturday’s earthquakes in western Afghanistan were similar in magnitude to a quake that struck last year near the country’s southeastern border with Pakistan. The 2022 earthquake killed more than 1,000 people and injured around 1,500, making it Afghanistan’s deadliest such disaster in decades.
Earthquakes are often deadly in Afghanistan because the country’s stone and mud-brick homes can easily be flattened by temblors.
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