An earthquake in western Afghanistan reportedly killed at least 2,000 people.

“Entire villages were flattened, bodies were trapped under collapsed houses and locals waited for help without even shovels to dig people out,” the Associated Press reports.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck a densely populated area of Herat, the country’s fourth-largest city.

Victims were trapped beneath rubble and the disaster reportedly destroyed more than 1,300 homes.

It’s believed to be Afghanistan’s most devastating earthquake in 20 years.

“The United States is carefully tracking the impact of yesterday’s earthquake in northwestern Afghanistan. Our humanitarian partners are responding with urgent aid in support of the people of Afghanistan,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

AP reports:

“Most people were shocked … some couldn’t even talk. But there were others who couldn’t stop crying and shouting,” photographer Omid Haqjoo, who visited four villages Sunday, told The Associated Press by phone from Afghanistan’s fourth largest city, Herat.

Saturday’s magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit a densely populated area near Herat. It was followed by strong aftershocks.

A Taliban government spokesman on Sunday provided the toll that, if confirmed, would make it one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike the country in two decades.

An earthquake that hit eastern Afghanistan in June 2022, striking a rugged, mountainous region, wiped out stone and mud-brick homes and killed at least 1,000 people.

The Guardian added:

Survivors of a series of powerful earthquakes that struck western Afghanistan on Saturday have spent a second night sleeping amid the rubble of demolished villages as they search for loved ones using shovels. The death toll is approaching 3,000, according to senior Taliban officials.

In the regional capital of Herat city people slept in public parks and streets, fearing further tremors. The United States Geological Survey reported quakes on Monday of magnitude 5.9, 4.9 and 4.7 in rural areas.

“We have concerns that there may be additional casualties in that area as well,” a Taliban official said. “Our teams are currently en route to provide assistance to those affected regions.”

Saturday’s 6.3-magnitude quake – followed by eight strong aftershocks – jolted hard-to-reach areas near Herat, toppling rural homes and sending panicked city dwellers into the streets. Afghanistan is already in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, with the widespread withdrawal of foreign aid after the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, which has had a severe impact on its healthcare system. The group also has fractious relations with international aid organisations after banning women from working for the UN and NGOs.


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