Earthquake kills fourteen people in Afghanistan

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Earthquake kills fourteen people in Afghanistan

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake killed fourteen people and injured seventy-eight others on Saturday, October 7, in western Afghanistan. This initial toll is nevertheless expected to get worse, because the earthquake caused landslides and victims are still trapped under the rubble, authorities said.

“These figures are those of the victims who have been brought to the central hospital so far, but it is not a definitive toll,” said the director of public health of Herat province, Mohammad Taleb Shahid. “According to our information, people are still buried under the rubble,” he added.

The epicenter of the earthquake was located 40 kilometers northwest of Herat – a city considered the cultural capital of Afghanistan – and it was quickly followed by four strong aftershocks of magnitude 5.5, 4.7 , 6.3 and 5.9, reported the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS).

In Herat, which has 1.9 million people, the city's residents and traders fled buildings when the earthquake hit around 11 a.m. (8:30 a.m. French time), a journalist from the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

According to a preliminary report from the USGS, the earthquake could cause several hundred deaths. “It is likely that there will be a significant number of victims and that the disaster will be potentially widespread,” explains the institute. “Previous events with the same alert level have required a response at the regional or national level. »

“In rural and mountainous areas, landslides have occurred,” said natural disaster management services spokesperson Mullah Jan Sayeq.

“It was terrifying.”

“We were in our offices when the building suddenly started shaking and the wall coverings fell off. The walls cracked, and part of the building collapsed,” Bashir Ahmad, 45, told AFP. “I can’t contact my family, network connections no longer work. I’m so anxious and scared, it was terrifying,” he added.

Groups of women and children stood away from tall buildings on the streets of Herat after the earthquake and its aftershocks, which struck over the next hour.

In June 2022, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, the deadliest in Afghanistan in nearly twenty-five years, left more than a thousand dead and tens of thousands homeless in the poor province of Paktika. (South East). And last March, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake caused the death of thirteen people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, near the town of Jurm, in the northeast of the country.

Afghanistan frequently experiences earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, close to the junction between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. The country is already in the grip of a severe humanitarian crisis, since the Taliban's return to power in 2021 and the subsequent withdrawal of international aid.