Two powerful earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.3 have struck western Herat Province in Afghanistan, resulting in a significant loss of life and causing extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure. The twin quakes occurred within a span of 30 minutes on Saturday morning. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan estimated that around 320 people have died as a result of the earthquakes. However, this figure is yet to be confirmed.
Initial reports from local authorities put the death toll at 100, with at least 500 people injured. However, the OCHA expects these numbers to rise as search and rescue operations continue. There are concerns that some individuals might still be trapped under collapsed buildings. The fatalities occurred in eight different villages across Herat and Zenda Jan provinces.
The earthquakes have also displaced hundreds of families, with roughly 300 families seeking shelter in abandoned buildings in Herat City. The provincial hospital in Herat City is providing emergency trauma care to the many wounded villagers. The situation remains critical as there have been several significant aftershocks, including one measuring 5.9 and another at 5.5 on the Richter scale. These tremors have caused further fear and anxiety among the affected population.
Abdul Shakor Samadi, a resident of Herat City, reported that everyone in his neighborhood had evacuated their homes. Fear of additional earthquakes has kept people outdoors, hesitant to return to their houses, offices, and shops.
It is worth noting that the earthquakes in Afghanistan coincided with similar seismic activity in other parts of the world. Papua New Guinea experienced quakes measuring 6.9 and 6.7 on the same day, and a 5.9-magnitude tremor shook southern Mexico. Fortunately, there have been no reports of major casualties in these regions.
The strength of the earthquakes in western Afghanistan is comparable to the devastating quake that struck the country’s southeastern border with Pakistan last year. That earthquake was responsible for the deaths of over 1,000 people and injured approximately 1,500. Afghanistan’s vulnerability to earthquakes is exacerbated by its housing infrastructure, which consists mainly of stone and mud-brick homes that are prone to destruction during seismic events.
Efforts are underway to provide immediate relief and support to the affected communities. The Afghan government, along with international humanitarian organizations, is coordinating rescue operations, providing medical assistance, and distributing essential supplies to those in need. The focus is on saving lives, treating the injured, and ensuring the well-being of displaced families. The situation demands urgent attention and swift action to alleviate the suffering of the affected population and help rebuild their lives.
As news of the earthquakes in Afghanistan spreads, it is important to raise awareness of the situation and extend support to the relief efforts. The international community, non-governmental organizations, and individuals can contribute by providing financial assistance, donating essential supplies, or offering expertise in disaster management. Solidarity and collective action are crucial in times of distress, and together, we can alleviate the suffering and support the recovery of the affected communities in Afghanistan.