Afghanistan quakes death toll rises to 2,000 - GulfToday

Afghanistan quakes death toll rises to 2,000


Afghan residents clear debris from a damaged house after earthquake in Sarbuland village on Saturday. AFP

Death toll from strong earthquakes that shook western Afghanistan rises to 2,053, said a Taliban spokesman on Sunday, in one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike the country in two decades.

A powerful magnitude-6.3 earthquake followed by strong aftershocks killed dozens of people in western Afghanistan on Saturday, the country's national disaster authority said.

Abdul Wahid Rayan, spokesman of the Ministry of Information and Culture, said the death toll from the earthquake in Herat is higher originally reported. About six villages have been destroyed, and hundreds of civilians have been buried under the debris, he said while calling for urgent help.

The United Nations gave a preliminary figure of 320 dead, but later said the figure was still being verified. Local authorities gave an estimate of 100 people killed and 500 injured, according to the same update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The update also said 465 houses had been reported destroyed and a further 135 were damaged.

"Partners and local authorities anticipate the number of casualties to increase as search and rescue efforts continue amid reports that some people may be trapped under collapsed buildings,” the UN said.

Afghan children rest under a blanket beside damaged houses in Sarbuland village on Saturday. AFP

Disaster authority spokesperson Mohammad Abdullah Jan said four villages in the Zenda Jan district in Herat province bore the brunt of the quake and aftershocks.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake's epicenter was about 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Herat city. It was followed by three very strong aftershocks, measuring magnitude 6.3, 5.9 and 5.5, as well as lesser shocks.

At least five strong tremors struck the city around noon, Herat city resident Abdul Shakor Samadi said.

"All people are out of their homes,” Samadi said. "Houses, offices and shops are all empty and there are fears of more earthquakes. My family and I were inside our home, I felt the quake.” His family began shouting and ran outside, afraid to return indoors.

Associated Press


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