According to the nation’s national disaster authority, a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3, followed by strong aftershocks, wreaked havoc in western Afghanistan on a tragic Saturday. However, as the grim reality unfolded, the death toll kept rising, eventually reaching a staggering 2,060 casualties, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike Afghanistan in the past 20 years.
Image Source : CNN
According to Abdul Wahid Rayan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Information and Culture, the tragedy’s actual scope was greater than anticipated. He stressed the urgent need for assistance by revealing that hundreds of individuals were still trapped beneath the debris and that about six villages had been entirely destroyed.
The Death toll report , UN expresses concern
The preliminary death toll was initially published by the UN at 320, but later it was clarified that the figure was still being validated. An update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated that local officials estimated 100 fatalities and 500 injuries. The same update said that 465 reported destroyed homes and 135 reported damaged homes.
The UN expressed concern that the number of victims will probably rise as search and rescue operations went on due to the catastrophic conditions on the ground. The urgency of the reaction was increased by reports of persons trapped under collapsed structures.
Four villages in Herat took the brunt of the original earthquake
According to Mohammad Abdullah Jan, a representative for the disaster agency, four villages in the Herat province’s Zenda Jan area took the brunt of the original earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. The earthquake’s epicenter was determined by the United States Geological Survey to be around 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Herat city. Three extremely powerful aftershocks, with magnitudes of 6.3, 5.9, and 5.5, as well as several minor shakes, followed the seismic event.
Around noon, the citizens of Herat city had the dreadful experience of having to suffer at least five powerful tremors. A resident of Herat city named Abdul Shakor Samadi described the ensuing pandemonium and panic as people ran from their homes, workplaces, and stores. Samadi and his family were constrained to stay outside due to their fear of additional earthquakes and were unable to go back to their homes.
WHO is providing help to the injured
The World Health Organization (WHO) in Afghanistan moved quickly to transport wounded to hospitals by sending 12 ambulance cars to Zenda Jan. In addition, they helped with the injured’s care and identified any other medical requirements. Women and children were said to represent the majority of those afflicted.
Telephone lines in Herat failed as a result of the damage to the communication infrastructure, making it difficult to gather information from the impacted regions. Videos of hundreds of people gathering in the streets outside of their homes and workplaces in Herat city inundated social media networks.
Earthquake felt in Farah and Badghis also
Local media stated that the earthquake was felt in adjacent Afghan regions, including Farah and Badghis, which border Iran and the Herat province.
The deputy prime minister for economic matters appointed by the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, sent his sympathies to the Herat and Badghis victims in the middle of the catastrophe. In a statement, the Taliban asked regional groups to act immediately to aid individuals in earthquake-affected areas.
Their pleas included getting the injured to hospitals, giving homeless people a place to stay, and getting surviving the food they needed to survive. Security services were also asked to use all tools and infrastructure at their disposal to free anybody stuck by debris.
Solidarity and assistance from throughout the world also flowed in. On social media, Takashi Okada, the ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan, offered his sympathies, writing that he was “deeply grieved and saddened to learn the news of the earthquake in Herat province.”
This earthquake served as a somber reminder of the area’s susceptibility to earthquakes. Stone and mud-brick dwellings were destroyed by a strong earthquake that struck a rough, mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan in June 2022. At least 1,000 people died and about 1,500 were injured as a result of the earthquake, underlining the need of disaster planning and response in the area.