Following a significant earthquake that struck western Afghanistan close to the Iranian border, hundreds of people are feared dead. The Taliban government first suggested that there may have been more than 2,000 fatalities, but later emphasized that this figure also included those who had been injured.
At least 12 villages in the area of Herat were completely destroyed on Saturday by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. Survivors recalled how terrified they were as the buildings around them fell. Teams of rescuers searched through the night for people who might be buried beneath the rubble. There have been thousands of injuries. Hospitals in a nation with woefully insufficient medical resources struggle to treat the injured. The UN and other organizations have begun to rush in emergency supplies.
The earthquake occurred roughly 40 km (25 mi) north-west of Herat on Saturday morning. The worst-affected communities are remote and consist of mud structures. In the very first shake, all the houses collapsed, and those who were inside were buried under the rubble At least 465 houses had been flattened.
In an effort to rescue victims from the wreckage, men in western Afghanistan searched through debris with their bare hands and shovels on Sunday.
The Taliban administration directed military and service organizations to prioritize the areas hit by the quake, including rescue operations, transporting the injured, preparing homeless shelters, and delivering food aid.
In order to assist with the evacuation of casualties in the hard-hit districts of Herat Province, the World Health Organization dispatched 12 ambulances; however, it was noted that due to their remote location, rescue efforts would be challenging. The organization warned that the area’s mud and brick-built homes are vulnerable.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has also announced plans to send crucial relief items to Afghanistan. According to an NDMA statement, its top officials held a meeting to gain a better understanding of the crisis. The NDMA has arranged to dispatch items, which include food, medications, tents, and blankets. In addition to these items, search and rescue teams have also been shortlisted and are ready to be dispatched to the neighboring country
The earthquake was the deadliest to hit the country in decades and added to an already dire humanitarian crisis that has engulfed Afghanistan since the Western-backed government collapsed.
Afghanistan has long been one of Asia’s poorest nations and has suffered greatly from the conflict for decades.
Following the Taliban takeover, Washington and its allies cut off international assistance, further isolating Afghanistan from the rest of the world and devastating an already heavily aid-dependent economy. Regular earthquakes continue to cause major harm to the nation.
Besides WHO and other neighboring countries, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator has also approved a $5 million emergency reserve allocation from the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, which OCHA will launch and fully process within 24 hours, with eligible partners able to utilize their grants. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has deployed more teams to join ongoing humanitarian efforts. The agency has dispatched hygiene kits, family kits, winter clothes, blankets, tarpaulins, and basic household items, which will complement support provided by other UN agencies and partners.