A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck On Sunday the province of Herat, in the northwest of Afghanistan, causing at least two deaths and 154 injured in this region where a devastating earthquake had claimed more than a thousand victims a week earlier.
Sunday's shallow earthquake occurred at 8:06 a.m. local time (03:36 GMT) with an epicenter 33 kilometers from the city of Herat, according to the American Geophysics Institute (USGS). Several aftershocks, of magnitude 5.4, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4, followed.
Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) indicated that two deaths and 154 injuries had been recorded in the Herat regional hospital, where patients were transported on stretchers and treated outside under improvised shelters.
New earthquake in the Herat region in Afghanistan © AFP – Jonathan WALTER, Valentina BRESCHI
“The situation is very critical”, declared to AFP the head of the MSF program in Afghanistan Yahya Kalilah . “From a psychological point of view, people are panicked and traumatized.”
“People do not feel safe. I can assure you 100 percent that no one will sleep at home,” added Yahya Kalilah.
National disaster management authorities said they are still assessing the extent of the destruction.
Haris Aryan, a resident of Herat, sent his family south to Farah province. “Many people, all those who have family or accommodation in neighboring provinces, have fled,” he told AFP.
“Those who have nowhere where to go…spend the night on the roads and in parks”, according to this resident.
Children in a camp after an earthquake in Injil, in the province of Herat, on October 15, 2023 in Afghanistan © AFP – Mohsen KARIMI
According to an AFP journalist in Herat, most residents continue to sleep outside a week after a deadly earthquake, fearing further tremors. But some returned to their homes for the night.
“The residents of Herat are panicked and scared,” explains a 27-year-old trader, Hamid Nizami. “Thanks to Allah, it happened during the day and people were awake.”
Yahya Kalilah of MSF predicted that losses would be limited because residents in the areas most affected by the previous October earthquakes were already living outside since their homes were destroyed.
On October 7, villages Entire parts of the Herat region were destroyed in a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.
The Taliban government estimated the death toll at more than a thousand. On Saturday evening, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported nearly 1,400 deaths from this earthquake.
A person injured in an earthquake is taken to hospital on October 15, 2023 in Herat, Afghanistan © AFP – –
Another major earthquake on October 11, the epicenter of which was detected about 30 kilometers north of Herat, created panic in a traumatized population and left at least one dead and around a hundred injured.
The tremors were followed by storms which damaged tents sheltering survivors.
Authorities said Sunday they had released more than 528 prisoners in the province of Herat and neighboring Badghis because prisons were “threatening to collapse” due to the tremors. Most of the released prisoners were nearing the end of their sentences, they said.
Nearly 20,000 people have been affected by successive earthquakes, WHO said, with most of the victims being women and children.
– Shelter needed –
Since the tremors, thousands of people in the province have been sleeping outside, in cars, gardens or tents, their homes having been reduced to dust.
Houses destroyed by an earthquake in Injil, in the province of Herat, October 15, 2023 in Afghanistan © AFP – Mohsen KARIMI
Afghanistan is already suffering from a serious humanitarian crisis, with the widespread withdrawal of foreign aid since the return to power of the Taliban.
Providing shelter in large quantities, as the winter, will be a challenge for the Taliban authorities, who took power in August 2021 and have tense relations with international aid organizations.
“We know that they can live in tents for a months, but any longer it will probably be very difficult,” said Public Health Minister Qalandar Ebad.
Afghanistan frequently experiences earthquakes, especially in the Hindu mountain range Kouch, close to the junction point between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
In June 2022, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake left more than a thousand dead and tens of thousands homeless in the poor province of Paktika (southeast).
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