According to government estimates, around 2,000 people have died after several strong earthquakes in Afghanistan. A Taliban spokesman confirmed this to the German Press Agency on Sunday. The number of injured is extremely high, added Abdul Wahid Rajan from the Ministry of Information and Culture.
Meanwhile, the desperate search for survivors continued. The UN emergency agency OCHA initially assumed on Saturday that more than 100 people had died and that the number of victims would rise as many people were trapped under collapsed buildings.
According to authorities, several villages in the severely affected border province of Herat have been completely destroyed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of around 4,200 people were affected by the earthquake disaster and at least 600 houses were destroyed. Medical circles said that a good 200 dead and around 700 injured people were brought to the largest hospital in the provincial capital Herat alone.
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.
Quake also occurred in neighboring 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.
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.