Afghanistan Earthquake Claims 2,000 Lives, Traps Hundreds Under Debris

The death toll from a series of powerful earthquakes that struck western Afghanistan has soared to over 2,000, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes to hit the country in the past twenty years. The initial magnitude-6.3 earthquake, followed by strong aftershocks, rocked the region on Saturday, causing extensive damage and loss of life.

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One of the Deadliest Quakes in Two Decades

Abdul Wahid Rayan, spokesman for the Ministry of Information and Culture, reported a significantly higher death toll than initially estimated, citing more than 2,000 casualties. Approximately six villages in Herat province have been utterly destroyed, with hundreds of civilians buried beneath the debris. Urgent assistance is desperately needed in the affected areas.

The United Nations estimated at first that 320 people had died, although that number is currently being double-checked. About 100 people were killed and 500 were injured, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). As a result of the accident, 465 dwellings were completely wiped out, while an additional 135 were severely damaged.

Ongoing Search and Rescue Efforts

Rescue teams are working tirelessly to find survivors and casualties amid the wreckage. The U.N. expressed concerns that the number of casualties could rise as search and rescue missions continue. Reports suggest that some individuals may be trapped beneath collapsed buildings, necessitating immediate assistance.

About 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the northwest of Herat City was where the earthquake was centered. Multiple severe aftershocks, including earthquakes of magnitudes 6.3, 5.9, and 5.5, increased the fear and confusion among the afflicted populace. The citizens of Herat city and the neighboring areas have evacuated their houses in anticipation of more earthquakes.

International Response

In order to transport patients from the Zenda Jan district, the World Health Organization in Afghanistan sent a total of 12 ambulances there. Women and children make up a disproportionate share of the injured being transported by ambulances funded by the World Health Organization.

Telephone connections in Herat were severely disrupted, making it challenging to gather accurate information from the affected regions. Videos circulating on social media revealed hundreds of people spilling into the streets outside their homes and workplaces in Herat.

Urgent Relief and Assistance

The Taliban government has called on local organizations to swiftly reach the earthquake-hit areas to provide medical care, shelter for the homeless, and food for survivors. Security agencies are mobilizing resources to rescue individuals trapped under debris, and the public has been urged to extend their support to the affected population.

International Expressions of Condolences

The international community has expressed its condolences and support for the people of Afghanistan during this challenging time. Japan's ambassador to Afghanistan, Takashi Okada, conveyed his deep grief and sadness in the wake of the earthquake.

Past Tragedy

This earthquake is reminiscent of a powerful quake that struck eastern Afghanistan in June 2022, causing extensive destruction and loss of life. That tragic event claimed the lives of at least 1,000 people and left approximately 1,500 injured in a mountainous region of the country.

Afghanistan is grappling with the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake that has claimed thousands of lives and left entire villages in ruins. The urgent need for rescue and relief efforts is paramount as the nation faces this devastating natural disaster.

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