Afghanistan Shaken: Devastating Earthquake Claims 2,000 Lives Near Herat

Afghanistan, already grappling with economic strife and political upheaval, is now facing yet another devastating natural disaster.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Afghanistan Shaken: Devastating Earthquake Claims 2,000 Lives Near Herat
© Getty Images News/Paola Bronstein

Afghanistan, already grappling with economic strife and political upheaval, is now facing yet another devastating natural disaster. A major earthquake, measuring a magnitude of 6.3, rocked western Afghanistan on Saturday, leaving a path of destruction and taking more than 2,000 lives.

Herat's Heartache

The earthquake's epicenter was located 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Herat city, the third-largest metropolis in Afghanistan. Within hours of the quake, the Taliban, who govern the country, shared the heart-wrenching statistics: 2,053 people dead, over 1,240 injured, and approximately 1,320 homes either entirely demolished or seriously damaged.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mojahid conveyed these figures, also noting the rising concerns that the numbers might increase. While the devastation spread across multiple areas, Mahal Wadakah, a village, emerged as the most grievously impacted zone.

The United Nations reported a minimum of 20 casualties from this village alone. Moreover, other places like Dasht Hows, Bahadorzai, Zoryan, and Koshkak, too, faced the brunt of the earthquake's fury. The scenes post-disaster were heartrending: towering mounds of debris, once homes and establishments, littered the landscape.

People, now homeless and grief-stricken, congregated in the streets seeking safety and solace amidst the rubble.

Relief Operations and Displacement

Swiftly following the disaster, rescue teams were deployed to the affected regions. "Supplies, including food, water, medicines, and clothing, have been dispatched to the quake site," Mojahid stated.

As per the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), around 4,200 individuals (or 600 families) have been impacted by this disaster. Adding to the complexity of the situation, roughly 300 families (an estimated 2,100 people) have sought refuge in Herat City, occupying abandoned buildings after being displaced from their homes.

Afghanistan's Mounting Challenges

This isn't the first time in recent history that the ground has violently shaken beneath the feet of Afghanistan's citizens. Amidst a severe economic downturn and a hunger crisis, Afghanistan has been struck by several earthquakes, leading to the loss of countless lives and displacing tens of thousands.

Historically, Afghanistan, one of Asia's poorest nations, has faced its share of adversities, primarily due to prolonged conflict. The challenges have intensified since the Taliban's takeover post the tumultuous US exit in 2021, which subsequently led to many international aid groups withdrawing their support.

This pull-out has compounded Afghanistan's struggles, especially when it comes to managing and mitigating the effects of natural calamities like this recent earthquake.

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