Afghanistan earthquake death toll rises to more than 2,000 with 13 villages almost destroyed

Residents of quake-hit villages look for their relatives through the rubble
Residents of quake-hit villages look for their relatives through the rubble Copyright AFP
By Euronews with AP
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Saturday's earthquakes were some of the deadliest to strike Afghanistan in decades.


The death toll from strong earthquakes that shook western Afghanistan has risen to 2,060, a Taliban government spokesman said Sunday. 

A powerful magnitude-6.3 earthquake followed by strong aftershocks killed dozens of people in western Afghanistan on Saturday, the country's national disaster authority said.

But Abdul Wahid Rayan, spokesman at the Ministry of Information and Culture, said the death toll from the earthquake in Herat is higher than originally reported. About six villages have been destroyed, and hundreds of civilians have been buried under the debris, he said while calling for urgent help.

German news agency DPA says that 13 villages were almost completely destroyed.

The United Nations gave a preliminary figure of 320 dead on Saturday but later said the figure was still being verified. Local authorities gave an estimate of 100 people killed and 500 injured, according to the same update from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The update said 465 houses had been reported destroyed and a further 135 were damaged.

“Partners and local authorities anticipate the number of casualties to increase as search and rescue efforts continue amid reports that some people may be trapped under collapsed buildings,” the UN said.

Disaster authority spokesperson Mohammad Abdullah Jan said four villages in the Zenda Jan district in Herat province bore the brunt of the quake and aftershocks.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake's epicentre was about 40 kilometres northwest of Herat city. It was followed by three very strong aftershocks, measuring magnitude 6.3, 5.9 and 5.5, as well as lesser shocks.

At least five strong tremors struck the city around noon, Herat city resident Abdul Shakor Samadi said.

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