An earthquake in west Afghanistan kills more than 2,000 with villages destroyed

People are seen among the ruins of dwellings after earthquakes in Herat province, Afghanistan. (Source: Xinhua/Shutterstock)

A magnitude-6.3 earthquake and strong aftershocks have struck western Afghanistan, resulting in a significant loss of life. Initial reports from Taliban officials suggested that more than 2,000 people had perished in the disaster, while the United Nations initially estimated 320 casualties before revising the figure upwards. The earthquake caused the destruction of around six villages and buried hundreds of civilians under debris. As search and rescue efforts continue, there is a growing concern that the casualty count will rise as more individuals may be trapped under collapsed buildings.

The earthquake’s epicenter was located approximately 40 kilometers northwest of Herat city. This seismic event was followed by several powerful aftershocks, including magnitudes of 6.3, 5.9, and 5.5. These tremors induced widespread panic, prompting residents to evacuate their homes and seek refuge in the streets. The World Health Organization rapidly mobilized resources, dispatching ambulances to evacuate the injured, with a particular focus on assisting women and children affected by the catastrophe.

The impact of the earthquake extended beyond Herat, affecting neighboring provinces such as Farah and Badghis. Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs, conveyed his condolences to the victims and called on local organizations to provide immediate assistance, including medical care, shelter, and food distribution to those affected. This tragic earthquake serves as a sobering reminder of the region’s susceptibility to seismic events, with a similarly devastating earthquake occurring in June 2022, claiming numerous lives and causing extensive damage.