Devastating Earthquakes in Western Afghanistan Claim Over 2,000 Lives

In a heartfelt plea, the Taliban asked their more affluent compatriots to extend their support and aid to their afflicted brethren during this trying time.

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People affected by the earthquake rest outdoors in Herat Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 7, 2023. (Photo by Mashal/Xinhua)

The death toll from a series of powerful earthquakes that struck western Afghanistan has climbed to over 2,000, according to a spokesperson from the Taliban government. This seismic catastrophe ranks among the deadliest to hit the nation in the past two decades.

The initial quake, registering a formidable magnitude of 6.3, unleashed widespread destruction, followed by relentless aftershocks. These tremors, as reported by the country’s national disaster authority, led to the loss of dozens of lives in western Afghanistan on Saturday.

Abdul Wahid Rayan, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Information and Culture, disclosed that the death toll from the earthquake in Herat is even higher than initially reported. Approximately six villages have been reduced to rubble, with hundreds of civilians tragically buried beneath the debris. Rayan urgently called for assistance in the face of this dire situation.

Initial reports from the United Nations suggested approximately 320 casualties, but the figure remains under verification. Local authorities, in alignment with the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, estimate around 100 lives lost and 500 individuals injured. The update also highlights the destruction of 465 homes, with an additional 135 structures suffering damage.

The U.N. emphasized that the number of casualties is likely to rise as search and rescue operations persist, with reports of individuals trapped under collapsed buildings.

The epicenter of the quake, according to the United States Geological Survey, was approximately 25 miles northwest of Herat city. It was followed by three substantial aftershocks, measuring magnitudes of 6.3, 5.9, and 5.5, along with numerous smaller tremors. Residents of Herat city experienced at least five significant tremors, forcing them to evacuate homes and workplaces due to fears of further earthquakes.

The World Health Organization in Afghanistan swiftly dispatched 12 ambulance cars to Zenda Jan for the evacuation of casualties to hospitals. They also reiterated their commitment to assisting the wounded and assessing additional needs as the situation unfolds.

The breakdown of telephone connections in Herat has hindered efforts to gather detailed information from affected areas. Videos circulating on social media depict hundreds of people taking to the streets outside their homes and offices in Herat city.

Adjacent to Iran, Herat province shares a border with the quake-affected region. Reports suggest that the tremors were also felt in nearby Afghan provinces of Farah and Badghis.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs, expressed his condolences to the victims in Herat and Badghis. The Taliban has urgently appealed to local organizations to provide immediate assistance to the earthquake-stricken areas. They called upon security agencies to utilize all available resources and facilities for the rescue of those trapped under debris.

In a heartfelt plea, the Taliban asked their more affluent compatriots to extend their support and aid to their afflicted brethren during this trying time.

Local Taliban officials in Herat city are making a desperate plea for female doctors to immediately return to the district’s hospital in the wake of a powerful earthquake that struck the province yesterday. The seismic event has not only caused widespread devastation but has also led to a surge in casualties now surpassing 2,000 dead, pushing the district’s hospital into a state of emergency.

The urgent request, issued by local authorities, extends to all health department personnel and specifically emphasizes the need for female doctors, citing a critical shortage of medical professionals. Remarkably, this appeal marks a dramatic reversal from the provisional government’s previous stance, which had prohibited health workers, including female doctors, from practicing at this very hospital.

Under the administration of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, which operates under the provisional government’s jurisdiction, initial reports have indicated a staggering count of more than 400 casualties resulting from the earthquake’s impact. Simultaneously, the United Nations has released an official report, revealing that the disaster has claimed the lives of 320 individuals while leaving hundreds more wounded.

Amid the chaos and distress, residents of Herat continue to voice their frustrations over the delayed response from responsible authorities, underscoring the urgent need for medical aid and support in the aftermath of this catastrophic event. The situation remains fluid, with efforts underway to mobilize medical resources and provide relief to those affected by this devastating earthquake.

Sri Lanka Guardian

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