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International News: Powerful earthquake kills over 2,000 people in western Afghanistan

Posted: Sunday, October 8, 2023. 4:21 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: According to a report from CNN on October 7, a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake rocked western Afghanistan on Saturday, leaving more than 2,000 people dead. The Taliban confirmed these figures on Sunday. This tragedy strikes Afghanistan at a time of immense economic instability, marking yet another challenge for a nation already in distress.

The earthquake, emanating approximately 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Herat city, is the third largest to impact the western Herat province, one of Afghanistan’s significant regions. Zabihullah Mojahid, the Taliban spokesman, detailed the calamity, citing 2,053 deaths. Furthermore, the quake injured over 1,240 individuals and resulted in the complete or partial destruction of 1,320 homes. With rescue efforts actively in motion, the overall toll might see a rise.

Relief teams have now reached the affected areas in Herat province, providing much-needed supplies like food, water, medications, and clothing, Mojahid added.

Residents in neighboring provinces of Badghis and Farah were not spared, experiencing the quake and subsequent aftershocks. The initial estimates from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) painted a different picture, suggesting a toll of approximately 100 deaths and 500 injuries. However, these figures have been vastly overshadowed by the current grim reality.

Images emerging from the affected areas show overwhelming devastation, with structures reduced to heaps of debris. Panicked survivors sought safety in open spaces, gathering in large numbers.

Mahal Wadakah village has been highlighted by the UN as bearing the brunt of the earthquake’s fury, accounting for at least 20 deaths. Other regions, such as Dasht Hows, Bahadorzai, Zoryan, and Koshkak, have also seen significant damage.

Compounding the tragedy, approximately 2,100 people, or nearly 300 families, have been displaced to Herat City, finding temporary shelter in abandoned buildings.

In the backdrop of political upheaval and economic crises, Afghanistan has been confronting a series of natural disasters. The nation’s capacity to address these calamities has been critically hindered since the Taliban’s ascent to power in 2021, following the US’s hasty withdrawal. This political shift precipitated a mass exit of international aid organizations, further crippling the nation’s resilience.

The Taliban’s takeover also prompted significant economic ramifications. The USA and its allies responded by freezing an estimated $7 billion of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves and halting international funding, severely debilitating an economy already reliant on foreign aid.

The World Bank recently voiced concerns over the deteriorating economic situation, indicating that two-thirds of Afghan families are grappling with profound challenges to sustain their livelihoods.

Afghanistan’s seismic activity remains a pressing concern. The nation has been witness to multiple earthquakes this year alone, with tremors felt even in neighboring countries like Pakistan and India.


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