Another Earthquake Strikes Western Afghanistan, Adding to the Devastation

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A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 has struck western Afghanistan, causing further destruction to an area that was already devastated by a series of tremors over the weekend. The quake, which occurred at a shallow depth at around 5:10am local time, was centered about 29 kilometers north of the city of Herat, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Efforts to rescue survivors from the previous earthquakes have been ongoing since Saturday, with volunteers and rescuers working tirelessly. These earlier earthquakes resulted in the leveling of entire villages and impacted over 12,000 people, as estimated by the United Nations. Despite conflicting reports from local and national officials regarding the number of casualties, the disaster management ministry has confirmed that at least 2,053 people have lost their lives.

Fortunately, there have been no immediate reports of new casualties as a result of the latest earthquake. However, districts adjacent to the areas previously devastated by the tremors have reportedly experienced significant losses, according to a statement from the office of Herat’s governor. The governor’s office also mentioned that medical teams have been working diligently to transport the injured to hospitals.

The recent series of earthquakes has left many residents of Herat city, home to over half a million people, fearful and seeking shelter in tents outdoors due to the risk of aftershocks. However, providing shelter for the thousands affected poses a challenge for the Taliban authorities who assumed power in August 2021 and have strained relationships with international aid organizations.

Afghanistan is no stranger to deadly earthquakes, but the weekend disaster was one of the worst to hit the war-torn country in over 25 years. The majority of homes in rural Afghanistan are made of mud and lack proper reinforcement like steel or concrete, making them vulnerable to severe damage during earthquakes. Additionally, the practice of multiple generations living under one roof exacerbates the devastation caused by such natural disasters.

Adding to the dire situation is Afghanistan’s existing humanitarian crisis, which has been further exacerbated by the withdrawal of foreign aid following the Taliban’s return to power. Herat province, located on the border with Iran and home to approximately 1.9 million people, has been grappling with a prolonged drought, further compounding the challenges faced by its rural communities.

Despite the immense challenges ahead, Afghan authorities and international organizations are working tirelessly to provide relief and support to the affected population and help rebuild the shattered communities.

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