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Afghanistan rocked by another strong earthquake

October 11, 2023

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit western Afghanistan in the same region where a quake over the weekend claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Afghan women and children sit amid destruction after an earthquake in Zenda Jan district in Herat province, western Afghanistan, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023.
A series of quakes and aftershocks over several days in the western Herat region has caused considerable damage to often fragile buildingsImage: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP/picture alliance

A strong, 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Afghanistan's Herat province on Wednesday just a few days after an earlier quake in the same northwestern region of the country had killed more than 1,000 people.

Wednesday's earthquake occurred early morning at a shallow depth of 9.6 kilometers (6 miles) with its epicenter about 29 kilometers north of Herat, according to the US Geological Survey.

The strong tremors forced authorities again to deploy emergency services and rescue teams.

Jana Sayiq, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban government's national disaster authority said Wednesday's quake killed at least one person and injured around 120 others. 

Doctors and paramedics treat the injured earthquake survivors in front of the Herat Regional Specialized Hospital to treated after 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan's western province of Herat on October 11, 2023.
Doctors Without Borders personnel were also assisting at Herat Regional Hospital on WednesdayImage: Mirwais Amir/AA/picture alliance

French aid group Doctors Without Borders (or MSF) said that the Herat Regional Hospital treated 117 people injured in Wednesday's quake. MSF said it sent additional medical supplies to the hospital and was setting up more triage tents there. 

"Our teams are assisting in triaging emergency cases and managing stabilized patients admitted in the medical tents," MSF said on social media. 

The latest quake led to a landslide that has blocked the main Herat-Torghondi highway, Information Ministry spokesman Abdul Wahid Rayan said.

After Afghanistan's earthquake, families hold a mass funeral

In Chahak village, at least 700 houses were destroyed, though people had already left it amid the frequent tremors of recent days.

Humanitarian crises in Afghanistan deepens after earthquake

The series of deadly earthquakes has left Afghanistan's population reeling from acute humanitarian crises.

Afghanistan's Taliban-run government has said that at least 2,400 people were killed and more than 2,000 were injured when repeated tremors rocked Herat on Saturday.

Afghan Public Health Minister Qalandar Ebad on Wednesday lowered the toll to around 1,000, attributing the confusion to the remoteness of the area and double reporting by agencies involved in the rescue effort.

The Iranian rescue team and Afghan men search for victims after an earthquake in Herat province, western Afghanistan.
Iran sent a rescue team to Afghanistan, and despite difficult ties since the Taliban takeover, the EU and others also pledged assistanceImage: ranian Red Crescent Society/ZUMA/picture alliance

Saturday's quake destroyed at least 11 villages in Herat province's Zenda Jan district, according to the UN. 

Local media reported that residents in Herat, fearing more earthquakes, have resorted to sleeping in tents at night.

Severe earthquakes are common in Afghanistan, however, Saturday's earthquake was the worst to hit the war-torn country in 25 years.

EU, UN pledge aid to Afghanistan

The Taliban is facing a big challenge in providing emergency shelter and relief to the survivors of the earthquake.

The European Union has pledged 3.5 million euros ($3.71 million) in emergency humanitarian aid funding. The aid package adds to the 2.5 million euros that are for organizations already carrying out relief work on the ground.

The new funding aid is in addition to the 89 million euros already allocated for humanitarian organizations in Afghanistan, the EU said in a statement.

The UN humanitarian coordinator is also going to provide a $5 million emergency reserve allocation from the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AHF).

Pakistan, Iran and China have agreed to send relief items such as food, blankets, medicines, tents and funds. Turkey, Iran and Abu Dhabi has also pledged to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan reels after powerful earthquake

mfi, msh/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)