Hundreds of people are feared dead after a series of powerful earthquakes hit western Afghanistan.The United Nations said more than 320 had lost their lives before later saying the figure was still being verified. A local Taliban official told the Guardian the death toll “is much higher than that”.
“The number of martyred people is massive, with many still under the rubble,” the local Taliban official said. “The Islamic Emirate is doing its best to help people but we will need help.”“Significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread,” a preliminary United States Geological Survey (USGS) report said. “Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.”
A map posted on the USGS website indicates seven earthquakes in the region, including a 5.9-magnitude earthquake 21.7 miles north-north-west of Herat, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake 20.5 miles north-north-east of Zindah Jan and another 6.3-magnitude earthquake 18 miles north-north-east of Zindah Jan, which is about 26 miles west of Herat city.
Footage coming out from Herat province shows apocalyptic scenes with villages reduced to rubble and people taking their dead loved ones out of the rubble.“Dozens of villages are completely destroyed and hundreds of people are under the rubble,” Dawood, a resident of the severely hit Zindah Jan district, told the Guardian over the phone from Herat.
“I took nine dead bodies of my relatives to Herat and I’m on the way back. Roads to many of the villages are damaged. Lots of people would die under the rubble tonight.“I can tell you only 50 people are alive in the village of my relatives,” Dawood added. “More than 400 people were living there until this morning. A catastrophe is unfolding here.
The local governor said “a high number” of people are dead in the district as more than 10 villages are reduced to rubble. “We call on the people to go and help the [affected] people in these villages,” Noor Ahmad Islamjar said in a clip.He called on donors and pharmacies to help the local hospital with medicine.
Herat regional hospital was flooded with injured people from across Herat and nearby provinces on Saturday evening. Dozens of people were being treated outside the hospital after the 600-bed hospital reached capacity by the afternoon local time.“It was around 11am, and I was shopping at a market when it began,” Esmail, a resident of Herat city, said.
“People hurriedly rushed outside. I had barely stepped out, and then another earthquake struck,” he recounted. “It was shorter in duration than the previous one. And then yet another followed. That’s when I decided to head home. The next quake hit while I was outside my house, causing a wall to collapse on my 12-year-old cousin.