A spokesperson for the Taliban government stated on Sunday that the number of casualties from the powerful earthquakes in western Afghanistan has exceeded 2,000. This is one of the deadliest earthquakes the country has witnessed in two decades.
The National Disaster Management Authority of the country reported that on Saturday, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck western Afghanistan, followed by strong aftershocks that claimed the lives of dozens of people.
However, the Information and Culture Ministry’s spokesperson, Abdul Wahid Riazi, said that the number of casualties from the earthquake in Herat exceeds the initially reported figures. He appealed for immediate assistance, stating that nearly six villages have been destroyed, and many citizens are trapped beneath the rubble.
The United Nations initially reported 320 casualties late Saturday night but later indicated that this figure is still being verified. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in the same update, stated that local authorities estimated around 100 people dead and 500 injured in the humanitarian crisis.
It is currently reported that 465 homes have been destroyed, and 135 others have been damaged.
The United Nations has expressed concerns about an increasing number of casualties and the situation in general, as rescue and relief efforts continue amid reports of people being trapped under collapsed buildings.
The spokesperson for the Disaster Management Authority, Mohammad Abdullah Jan, mentioned that the Zenda Jan district in Herat province has suffered the most damage from the earthquake and subsequent tremors.
The United States Geological Survey reported that the epicenter of the earthquake was approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) north-northwest of Herat city. Following this, three more powerful aftershocks with magnitudes of 6.3, 5.9, and 5.5 occurred, along with several smaller ones.
Abdul Shakoor Samadi, a resident of Herat city, mentioned that around midday, the city experienced at least five strong tremors. He stated, “Everyone is outside of their homes. Houses, offices, and shops are all empty, and there is a fear of more earthquakes. My family and I were inside our house, and we felt the earthquake. My family started screaming, and I was afraid to return inside the house.”
In Afghanistan, the World Health Organization stated that it sent 12 ambulance cars to Zenda Jan to transport casualties to hospitals.
UN agencies have been assisting with the treatment of the injured and assessing additional needs as reports of casualties and needs continue to emerge. The WHO-supported ambulances are transporting affected individuals, including many women and children, to hospitals.
Telephone connections were disrupted in Herat, making it challenging to obtain information from the affected areas. Videos on social media show hundreds of people in Herat city standing outside their homes and offices on the streets.
Herat province shares its border with Iran. According to local media reports, the earthquake was also felt in the neighboring Afghan provinces of Farah and Badghis.
Abdul Gani Baradar, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs appointed by the Taliban, expressed his condolences to the victims and the injured in Herat and Badghis. The Taliban appealed to local organizations to quickly reach the earthquake-affected areas so that the injured can be transported to hospitals, shelters can be provided to the homeless, and food can be delivered to those who are still alive. They emphasized that security agencies should use all their resources and facilities to rescue people trapped in rubble.
The Taliban stated on their official account, “We call on our compatriots to provide all possible assistance and help to our affected brothers.”
Takashi Okada, Japan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, expressed his sorrow and condolences on the social media platform X, saying that he is “very saddened by the news of the earthquake in Herat province.”
In June 2022, a powerful earthquake struck a remote, mountainous region in eastern Afghanistan, causing stone and mud-brick houses to collapse. The earthquake resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 people, with nearly 1,500 others injured.
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