Powerful earthquakes have struck Afghanistan, resulting in a devastating loss of life and injuries. The Taliban administration reported that more than 2,000 people have died, and over 9,000 have been injured in the deadliest quakes the country has experienced in years.
These earthquakes occurred in the western part of Afghanistan, approximately 35 km (20 miles) northwest of Herat city. One of the quakes had a magnitude of 6.3, according to the US Geological Survey. These quakes rank among the deadliest worldwide this year.
Janan Sayeeq, spokesperson for the Ministry of Disasters, initially reported 9,240 people injured, but later revised that number to “more than 2,000.” The death toll has risen to 2,445, and 1,320 houses have been damaged or destroyed. This increase in casualties came after the Red Crescent initially reported 500 deaths.
Rescue efforts are underway in the affected area, which borders Iran. Ten rescue teams have been deployed.
Hospitals in Herat received more than 200 deceased individuals, with a majority of them being women and children. The medical facilities set up additional beds outside the main hospital to accommodate the influx of victims.
Afghanistan was already grappling with a humanitarian crisis due to the withdrawal of foreign aid since the Taliban regained power in 2021. Urgent necessities such as food, clean water, medicine, clothing, and tents are required for rescue and relief efforts.
The historical minarets of Herat have sustained damage, with visible cracks and fallen tiles. Afghanistan, nestled among mountains, has a history of experiencing strong earthquakes, particularly in the rocky Hindu Kush region near Pakistan.
The country’s protracted war has paralyzed infrastructure, making it impossible to plan relief and rescue missions. The healthcare system, heavily dependent on foreign aid, has suffered significant since the Taliban’s return to power.
The international community is concerned about the Taliban’s restrictions on women and other humanitarian crises worldwide, leading to a reduction in financial support. In August, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced plans to halt financial support for 25 Afghan hospitals due to funding constraints.
Pakistan has expressed deep grief over the earthquake in Afghanistan and extended condolences to the affected families. Pakistan is in contact with Afghan authorities to assess urgent needs and has prioritized sending search and rescue teams, medicines, food, and shelter items to assist in the recovery effort. Former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also conveyed his condolences and prayed for the swift recovery of the injured.