Afghanistan earthquake leaves 2,000 dead, hundreds trapped and villages wrecked

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    The death toll from the deadliest earthquake to hit Afghanistan in two decades has risen to more than 2,000 with hundreds of people still buried under debris.

    A powerful magnitude-6.3 earthquake shook western Afghanistan, followed by strong aftershocks which killed dozens of people on Saturday, the country’s national disaster authority said. But the the Ministry of Information and Culture spokesman, Abdul Wahid Rayan, said the death toll from the earthquake in Herat is higher than originally reported, and called for urgent help.

    He said about six villages have been destroyed, and hundreds of civilians have been buried under the debris. The United Nations gave an early tally of 320 dead on Saturday, but later said that number was still being verified.

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    Meanwhile local authorities gave an estimate of 100 people killed and 500 injured, according to the same update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

    The update said 465 houses had been reported destroyed and a further 135 were damaged.

    “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 UN said.

    Disaster authority spokesperson Mohammad Abdullah Jan said four villages in the Zenda Jan district in Herat province bore the brunt of the quake and aftershocks.

    The United States Geological Survey said the quake’s epicentre was about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Herat city. It was followed by three very strong aftershocks.

    At least five strong tremors struck the city around noon, Herat city resident Abdul Shakor Samadi said.

    “All people are out of their homes,” Samadi said. “Houses, offices and shops are all empty and there are fears of more earthquakes. My family and I were inside our home, I felt the quake.”

    The World Health Organization in Afghanistan said it dispatched 12 ambulance cars to Zenda Jan to evacuate casualties to hospitals.

    “As deaths and casualties from the earthquake continue to be reported, teams are in hospitals assisting treatment of wounded and assessing additional needs,” the U.N. agency said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “WHO-supported ambulances are transporting those affected, most of them women and children.”

    Telephone connections went down in Herat, making it hard to get details from affected areas.

    Videos on social media showed hundreds of people in the streets outside their homes and offices in Herat city.

    The quake also was felt in the nearby Afghan provinces of Farah and Badghis, according to local media reports.

    Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs, expressed his condolences to the dead and injured in Herat and Badghis.

    The Taliban urged local organizations to reach earthquake-hit areas as soon as possible to help take the injured to hospital, provide shelter for the homeless, and deliver food to survivors. They said security agencies should use all their resources and facilities to rescue people trapped under debris.

    “We ask our wealthy compatriots to give any possible cooperation and help to our afflicted brothers,” the Taliban said on X.

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    • Afghanistan
    • Twitter
    • Earthquake
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