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Massive earthquakes hit Western Afghanistan

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Picture: Mohsen Karimi / AFP / Taken on October 10, 2023 – Afghan residents clear debris of damaged houses after earthquake in Nayeb Rafi village, Zendeh Jan district of Herat province on October 10, 2023. Rescue workers scrabbled through rubble on October 10 for villagers buried in their homes by a series of earthquakes that killed more than 2,000 people in rural western Afghanistan, but hope of finding survivors was fading fast.

By Sputnik Staff

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck northwest of Herat, according to the Europe-Mediterranean seismological centre.

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the Herat province in western Afghanistan early on Wednesday, data recorded by the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) has revealed.

The earthquake hit at 00:41 GMT 36 kilometres (km) northwest of Herat, seismologists said, adding that the epicentre of the earthquake was at a depth of 10km.

Two additional earthquakes measuring in at magnitudes 5.0 and 4.1 have since rattled the region, both having struck at a depth of 10km.

One local situated some 31km from the epicentre reported to the EMSC that the initial earthquake lasted for about five seconds, noting the event felt “strong”.

Reports have yet to detail the severity of any potential casualties or structural damages.

The latest incidents come after a devastating series of quakes struck the city of Herat on October 8, having destroyed about six villages and leaving hundreds of people under collapsed infrastructure.

Scenes of devastation emerged from war torn Afghanistan Sunday as volunteers urged international organisations to provide assistance in rescuing survivors.

“The tragedy is very huge, we cannot define it to you in simple words,” said one volunteer from Zenda Jan, a district in Herat province in Western Afghanistan. “People are still trapped in the debris, they are alive, but we cannot reach them.”

One video shared on social media showed a young girl being pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building, stunned and caked in gray dust. Her mother was found grasping the girl’s hand, though it wasn’t clear if she survived.

A Taliban* spokesperson told international media the earthquake measured a magnitude of 6.3 and pleaded for food, medicine and tents to house survivors. It appeared rescuers at the scene lacked professional training; volunteers called on international organisations to send trained rescue teams as Afghans buried under the wreckage tenuously cling to life.

Several aftershocks followed the quake, according to the United States Geological Survey, including magnitude 6.3, 5.9 and 5.5 tremors. Earlier estimates in the immediate aftermath of the event on Saturday had placed the death toll at over 100, but that number climbed rapidly as the country struggled to respond to the disaster.

“I am donating all of my[Cricket World Cup] match fees to help the affected people,” said Afghan cricket player Rashid Khan on the X platform on Sunday. “Soon, we will be launching a fundraising campaign to call upon those who can support the people in need.”

The United States occupied the landlocked Central Asian country of Afghanistan for nearly 20 years in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, although al-Qaeda** leader Osama bin Laden was eventually found hiding in neighbouring Pakistan. The Taliban quickly returned to power after the US withdrew from the country; President Joe Biden seized $7 billion in assets from the country’s central bank shortly thereafter.

*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation under UN sanctions.

**Al-Qaeda is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

This article was first published on Sputnik