After the strong earthquakes in Afghanistan with at least 100 deaths, the desperate search for survivors continues. The UN emergency agency OCHA expected the number of victims to rise as many people were trapped under collapsed buildings. Afghanistan's civil protection agency had previously expressed concerns about hundreds of possible deaths.
Seven villages in the severely affected border province of Herat were completely destroyed, a spokesman for the national disaster control told the German Press Agency on Saturday. According to the WHO, a total of around 4,200 people were affected by the earthquake disaster and at least 600 houses were destroyed.
Villages in ruins
The international aid organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported on the Internet platform X (formerly Twitter) that at least 300 injured people were treated in the hospital in the provincial city of Herat in the first few hours. MSF set up additional tents there immediately after the quake.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was dismayed and expressed his condolences to the victims' families, as UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York. Guterres called on the international community to support the Afghan population affected by the earthquake, especially with a view to the coming winter.
The well-connected Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwari shared videos of the rescue work on the X platform, formerly Twitter. The pictures showed houses that were completely in ruins. "The tranquil beauty of Herat has been destroyed by a relentless earthquake that has reduced entire villages to rubble," Sarwari wrote.
Border region near Iran
On Saturday morning, at least eight earthquakes shook the border region near Iran within a short period of time. The US earthquake monitoring station USGS put the magnitude at values between 4.6 and 6.3. The tremors occurred in the morning northwest of the Afghan border town of Herat, at a shallow depth of around ten kilometers.
The quakes were also felt in neighboring Iran. Residents of the metropolis of Mashhad in Iran, around 300 kilometers from the earthquake zone, said that the walls of houses were shaking. According to Iran's state media, teams were sent to border areas to inspect possible damage.
Severe earthquakes occur again and again in the region where the Arabian, Indian and Eurasian plates meet. More than 1,000 people died in a devastating earthquake in Afghanistan in 2022. After several decades of conflict, many houses are poorly built. Earthquakes therefore often cause great damage.