A powerful earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale struck western Afghanistan, unleashing chaos and devastation that has claimed nearly 120 lives and left over 1,000 individuals injured, according to disaster relief authorities. The tremors, which began around 11:00 am local time, lasted for nearly three harrowing hours, shaking the region to its core.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the epicenter of the earthquake was located approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Herat, Afghanistan’s largest city in the region. This seismic event was followed by eight significant aftershocks, ranging from 4.3 to 6.3 in magnitude.
Mosa Ashari, head of disaster management in Herat province, revealed the grim statistics, stating, “So far, more than 1,000 injured women, children, and elderly citizens have been included in our records, and about 120 people have lost their lives.”
The quake’s sudden onset caught residents and shopkeepers off guard, leading to a frantic evacuation of buildings as walls cracked, plaster fell, and some structures collapsed. Terrified residents recounted their experiences, with one survivor, Bashir Ahmad, sharing, “Wall plasters started to fall down and the walls got cracks, some walls and parts of the building collapsed. I am not able to contact my family; network connections are disconnected. I am too worried and scared; it was horrifying.”
In the aftermath of the initial quake, men, women, and children sought safety in the wide streets, far from tall buildings, remaining vigilant as aftershocks continued for hours. “The situation was very horrible; I have never experienced such a thing,” said Idrees Arsala, a 21-year-old student who safely evacuated his classroom as the tremors began.
Disaster management authorities fear that the death toll could significantly rise as rescue operations unfold. Mullah Jan Sayeq, a spokesperson for the disaster management authority, explained, “There are some areas that are totally collapsed and all the houses are damaged. People are still buried under the rubble. The aid agencies are trying to reach the area.”
The USGS has issued a preliminary estimate suggesting that hundreds of fatalities may ultimately be recorded, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive regional or national response.
Afghanistan is no stranger to earthquakes, primarily occurring in the Hindu Kush mountain range, situated near the intersection of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. Last year, a 5.9-magnitude quake in Paktika province resulted in over 1,000 deaths and left tens of thousands homeless, marking the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter of a century. In March of this year, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake claimed 13 lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This latest earthquake exacerbates Afghanistan’s ongoing humanitarian crisis, driven by the withdrawal of foreign aid following the Taliban’s return to power in 2021. The nation faces a double challenge: grappling with the aftermath of this natural disaster while already grappling with severe socio-economic and political instability.
As the world watches in sympathy and solidarity, rescue teams are working tirelessly to provide assistance and relief to those affected by this tragic earthquake in Afghanistan.
Sources By Agencies