Kanul: On Sunday, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck western Afghanistan, the same region recently hit by a devastating tremor that claimed over 1,000 lives. The US Geological Survey reported the earthquake, with its epicentre located 33 kilometres northwest of Herat city, the provincial capital. Just 20 minutes later, a magnitude 5.5 aftershock followed.
As of now, there are no immediate reports of casualties. However, disaster management officials are still investigating the situation. Residents in Herat city remain cautious, with many choosing to sleep outside due to fears of aftershocks causing further damage to their homes.
The previous week, a magnitude 6.3 quake and multiple powerful aftershocks had already rocked the same region, significantly damaging rural homes. The Taliban government reported over 1,000 casualties, but the World Health Organization (WHO) revised the figure to nearly 1,400 later.
In the aftermath of the earthquakes, another tremor of similar intensity claimed one life and left 130 people injured. The situation worsened with dust storms damaging the tents where survivors were living.
The WHO has reported that nearly 20,000 people have been affected by this series of disasters, with women and children comprising the majority of fatalities. Many survivors are now residing near the ruins of their destroyed homes.
The challenge for the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan will be to provide shelter on a large scale, considering the cold weather and their strained relations with international aid organizations. Most rural Afghan homes are constructed from mud with minimal reinforcement, making them vulnerable to serious earthquakes. Additionally, extended families often live together in these structures, exacerbating the impact on communities.
It’s essential to note that Afghanistan is already grappling with a severe humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the withdrawal of foreign aid following the Taliban’s return to power.