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Powerful earthquake shakes west Afghanistan a week after devastating quakes hit same region

Injured Afghan people being brought to a hospital following earthquake in Herat on Sunday
Injured Afghan people being brought to a hospital following earthquake in Herat on Sunday Copyright AFP via Getty Images
Copyright AFP via Getty Images
By Euronews with AP, AFP
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A new 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan on Sunday, following several tremors in the region since the beginning of the month, including a devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people.

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A powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck western Afghanistan on Sunday, just over a week after strong quakes and aftershocks killed thousands of people and flattened entire villages in the same region.

The shallow earthquake struck at 8.06 am local time, with its epicentre 34 kilometres outside Herat, according to the US Geophysical Survey (USGS).

An aftershock of magnitude 5.5 was recorded 20 minutes later, according to the institute.

So far one person has been reported dead and around 150 others injured, said Mohammad Zahir Noorzai, head of the emergency relief team in Herat province.

He added that casualty numbers might rise, as they have yet to reach all affected areas.

The earthquakes on 7 October flattened whole villages in Herat, making it one of the most destructive quakes in the country’s recent history.  

Taliban officials last week's quakes killed more than 2,000 people across the province. The epicentre was in the Zenda Jan district, where 1,294 people died, 1,688 were injured and every home was destroyed, according to UN figures.

'The people of Herat are panic-stricken'

According to an AFP journalist in Herat, most residents are still sleeping outdoors a week after a deadly earthquake, fearing further tremors. But some have returned to their homes for the night.

"The people of Herat are panic-stricken and frightened," says Hamid Nizami, a 27-year-old shopkeeper. "Thank Allah it happened during the day and people were awake.

More than 90% of the people killed a week ago were women and children, UN officials reported Thursday.

"Women and children are often at home, taking care of household chores and children, so when a structure collapses, they are most exposed", said Siddig Ibrahim, an official of the agency in Herat.  

At least six rural villages in the Zenda Jan district have been completely destroyed and more than 12,000 people have been affected by the earthquakes, according to the United Nations.

Afghanistan is already suffering from a serious humanitarian crisis, with the widespread withdrawal of foreign aid since the return of the Taliban to power.

Providing shelter in large quantities as winter approaches will be a challenge for the Taliban authorities, who took power in August 2021 and have strained relations with international aid organisations.

Afghanistan frequently experiences earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, close to the junction between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In June 2022, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake killed more than a thousand people and left tens of thousands homeless in the impoverished province of Paktika (south-east).

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