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The death toll from strong earthquakes in western Afghanistan, one of the deadliest earthquakes to shake the country in two decades, has risen to more than 2,000, a Taliban government spokesman said Sunday.
A 6.3 magnitude earthquake followed by strong aftershocks killed dozens of people in western Afghanistan on Saturday, according to the country’s national disaster authority.
However, Ministry of Information and Culture spokesman Abdul Wahid Rayan says per another source the death toll from the earthquake in Herat is higher than originally reported. About six villages were destroyed, and hundreds of civilians have been trapped under the debris.
The United Nations provided a preliminary figure late Saturday that 320 people were dead, but it later said the figure was still being verified. Local authorities estimated that 100 people were killed and 500 were injured, according to the same update from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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Two 6.3 magnitude earthquakes killed dozens of people in western Afghanistan’s Herat province on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, the country’s national disaster authority said. (AP)
According to the update, 465 houses were reported destroyed and another 135 were damaged.
“Partners and local authorities anticipate the number of casualties to increase as search and rescue efforts continue amid reports that some people may be trapped under collapsed buildings,” the U.N. said.
Disaster authority spokesperson Mohammad Abdullah Jan said four villages in the Zenda Jan district in Herat province suffered the most damage from the earthquake and aftershocks.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the earthquake was about 25 miles northwest of Herat city and was followed by three very strong aftershocks that measured magnitude 6.3, 5.9 and 5.5, as well as lesser shocks.
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The United Nations provided a preliminary figure late Saturday that 320 people were dead, but it later said the figure was still being verified. (Getty)
The World Health Organization in Afghanistan said it dispatched 12 ambulances to Zenda Jan to evacuate injured people to hospitals.
“As deaths & casualties from the earthquake continue to be reported, teams are in hospitals assisting treatment of wounded & assessing additional needs,” the U.N. agency said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “WHO-supported ambulances are transporting those affected, most of them women and children.”
Telephone connections went down in Herat, making it difficult to report the impacts from affected areas.
The earthquake was also felt in the nearby Afghan provinces of Farah and Badghis, according to local media reports.
The World Health Organization in Afghanistan said it dispatched 12 ambulance cars to Zenda Jan to evacuate injured people to hospitals. (REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)
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The Taliban urged local organizations to reach areas struck by the earthquake as soon as possible to help transport victims to hospitals, provide shelter for people displaced from their homes and deliver food to survivors. The Taliban said security agencies should use all their resources and facilities to rescue people trapped under debris.
“We ask our wealthy compatriots to give any possible cooperation and help to our afflicted brothers,” the Taliban said on X.
The earthquake comes after a powerful June 2022 earthquake struck a rugged, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan that killed at least 1,000 people and injured about 1,500.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.