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Afghanistan earthquakes kill more than 2,000, Taliban says

October 8, 2023

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake, and a series of powerful aftershocks, hit western Afghanistan, destroying villages and leaving hundreds dead. Tremors could also be felt in neighboring Iran.

Afghan residents sit at a damaged house after earthquake in Sarbuland village of Zendeh Jan, district of Herat province, on October 7,2023.
The quakes destroyed several villages in Afghanistan's Herat provinceImage: MOHSEN KARIMI/AFP

More than 2,000 people were killed by several strong earthquakes that struck westernAfghanistan, the Taliban administration said Sunday. 

The tremors hit Saturday morning and were mostly focused in the country's western region, with many felt in neighboring Iran.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quakes — one of which measured 6.3 magnitude — hit some 35 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the city of Herat, causing panic in the city.

What do we know about the quakes?

The earthquake and its subsequent, strong aftershocks left 2,053 people dead and 9,240 more injured, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority said.

Several villages in Herat province were completely destroyed, including at least 600 houses, according to the World Health Organization. Hundreds of civilians have been buried under the debris, with the Taliban government calling for urgent help.

"We ask our wealthy compatriots to give any possible cooperation and help to our afflicted brothers," the Taliban said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Authorities expected the number of casualties to rise, as the search operation for those under the rubble continues.

The earthquake is among the worst to have hit Afghanistan in decades. However, the country, which lies in a region where the Arabian, Indian and Eurasian plates meet, is no stranger to quakes.

In 2022, over 1,000 people were killed in a devastating tremor.

Decades of conflict have also left the country with poorly built structures, making it all the more vulnerable to disasters.

rmt/nm (AP, dpa, Reuters)