Powerful quake kills at least 2,000 people

HERAT, AFGHANISTAN – Another powerful earthquake struck western Afghanistan on Wednesday morning, following a devastating quake that claimed the lives of over 2,000 people and caused widespread destruction in Herat province. The magnitude 6.3 earthquake on Wednesday occurred approximately 17 miles outside the provincial capital and triggered a landslide that blocked a major highway. The aid group Doctors Without Borders reported that 117 people were injured in the latest temblor and sent additional medical supplies to the regional hospital in Herat. The quake also flattened all 700 homes in Chahak village, but fortunately, no deaths have been reported as residents had taken shelter in tents due to ongoing tremors.

The previous earthquake, which struck on Saturday with the same magnitude, had its epicenter about 25 miles northwest of Herat. Taliban officials have stated that more than 2,000 people died as a result of the earlier quakes, but no detailed casualty breakdown has been provided. The affected region is now left with little more than rubble and funeral processions, with survivors grappling with the loss of multiple family members. Volunteers have outnumbered living residents in their efforts to search for survivors and assist in the burial process.

Zinda Jan, a district heavily impacted by the quakes, has experienced extreme levels of destruction, according to U.N. satellite imagery. The area has just one government-run hospital, and the U.N. has expressed concern over the vulnerability of children and their severe psychological distress caused by the earthquakes. Afghanistan is prone to earthquakes due to its location near fault lines and the movement of tectonic plates. The country has recently endured several significant quakes, including a magnitude 6.5 earthquake in March and another in June 2022 that claimed the lives of at least 1,000 people.

Neighboring Pakistan has offered assistance, but the delivery of humanitarian aid has been delayed due to clearance issues with the Taliban. Pakistan has set a deadline for undocumented migrants, including 1.7 million Afghans residing illegally in the country, to leave before October 31. The strained relations between the two countries have added to the challenges faced by those affected by the earthquakes in Afghanistan.