Afghanistan hit by third earthquake in a week

Home*Cover Story*International

Afghanistan hit by third earthquake in a week

A new earthquake has hit western Afghanistan – several days after two large tremors in the region killed more than 1,000 people.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) says the magnitude 6.3 quake struck near the city of Herat. It was at a depth of 6.3km (four miles).

At least one person has died, according to local health authorities.

Another 100 are being treated for injuries in the regional hospital, the World Health Organisation said.

More than 90% of those who died in the earlier quakes were women and children, the UN’s children agency Unicef said.

In its report, the USGS said the epicentre of the latest tremor was 30km north-west of Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city close to the Iranian border.

Last Saturday’s earthquake hit Zindajan, a rural district some 40km from Herat.

The tremor saw entire houses, which were too fragile to withstand the quake, reduced to rubble.

Villagers used shovels and bare hands to search for missing people.

Medicines Sans Frontiers Afghanistan Programme head, Yahya Kalilah told the AFP news agency the casualties would likely be low because people were already sleeping outside in tents.

“In terms of psychology, people are panicked and traumatised,” he said.

“People are not feeling safe. I will assure you 100%, no one will sleep in their house.”

The Taliban, who has been ruling Afghanistan since 2021, also as the cold sets in, will likely not be able to manage in tents for more than a month.

Afghanistan has been reeling from an economic crisis since the Taliban came to power, when aid given directly to the government was stopped.

The country is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, as it lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In June last year, the province of Paktika was hit by a 5.9 magnitude quake which killed more than 1,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.