Quake-affected Afghans in need of aid to rebuild shelters ahead of winter

The reconstruction work after the deadly earthquakes in northwestern Afghanistan might be hindered by its unaffordable cost. Meanwhile, the weather is getting colder with each passing day. Last winter, more than 150 people lost their lives in mountainous Afghanistan.

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Photo taken on Oct. 9, 2023 shows the scene of rescue work following deadly earthquakes in the Zindajan district, Herat province, western Afghanistan. (Photo by Zahir Khan/Xinhua)

by Abdul Haleem

Thousands of people have been left homeless in west Afghanistan’s Herat province in the wake of devastating earthquakes that struck Herat and its neighboring Farah and Badghis provinces on Saturday.

The two deadly quakes, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center, each with a magnitude of 6.2 followed by several aftershocks rocked west Afghanistan. The epicenters were in the Zindajan district of Herat province and so far, 2,445 deaths have been confirmed.

The rescue operations have been continuing, in a bid to recover the survivors.

“My house was completely destroyed in the earthquakes and I have no place to live while the winter is getting closer,” quake-affected man Ghulam Sarwar said.

The reconstruction work might be hindered as the weather in impoverished Afghanistan is gradually getting colder with each passing day. Last winter, more than 150 people lost their lives due to a chilly winter in mountainous Afghanistan.

Sarwar, who lost three members of his 10-member family in the devastating quakes, told Xinhua about his inability to reconstruct his four-room mud house because it could cost him 200,000 afghanis (about 2,670 U.S. dollars).

Revealing his ordeal, Sarwar said that the first tremor took place at around noon, turning the village to dust and leaving several dead including three from his family.

“My brother and two nephews, four years and six months old, were martyred in the quake,” Sarwar spoke with sorrow.

Expressing similar grief, Nazar Mohammad, whose house was destroyed in the earthquakes, also felt helpless to reconstruct his shelter.

“My house, a compartment of three bedrooms and a hall, was destroyed in the tremors. If I construct a mud shelter, I need 100,000 afghanis, but I don’t have such economic capacity,” Mohammad said.

Mohammad said his child and wife were injured, and 30 more villagers were killed in the disaster.

The Afghan caretaker government has allocated 100 million afghanis as cash aid to the affected families, while countries and aid agencies have announced readiness to dispatch humanitarian aid to the quake-affected areas.

Xinhua News Agency

Founded in 1931, Xinhua News Agency is one of the largest news organizations in the world, with over 10,000 employees across the globe. As the main source of news and information for China, Xinhua plays a key role in shaping the country's media landscape and communicating its perspectives to the world. The agency produces a wide range of content, including text news articles, photos, videos, and social media posts, in both Chinese and English, and its reports are widely used by media organizations around the world. Xinhua also operates several international bureaus, including in key capitals like Washington, D.C., Moscow, and London, to provide in-depth coverage of global events.

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