Afghanistan shaken by another powerful earthquake

About 2,000 people lost their lives in earthquakes in the same region last week, Taliban officials said

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck western Afghanistan on Sunday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, the latest in a series of tremors to hit the Herat province, where entire villages have been destroyed and more than 2,000 people killed.

According to the USGS, Sunday morning’s epicenter was 34 kilometers (21 miles) outside the western provincial capital of Herat, and at a depth of around eight kilometers (five miles). A 5.5 magnitude aftershock followed 20 minutes later, the USGS added.

International humanitarian aid group Save the Children said four people have been confirmed dead, and 153 have so far presented for treatment at Herat’s regional hospital, according to the Associated Press.

Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) Afghanistan chief Yahya Kalilah told AFP news agency that casualties from Sunday’s earthquake could be lower because many people in the affected area were already sleeping outside in tents.

“In terms of psychology, people are panicked and traumatized,” Kalilha said. “People are not feeling safe. I will assure you 100%, no one will sleep in their house.”

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However, Mohammad Zahir Noorzai, the head of the emergency relief team in Herat province, said casualty numbers are likely to rise given that rescue workers have yet to reach all the affected areas, according to Sky News.

There has been widespread devastation in the Baloch area of Rabat Sangi in the Herat province as a result of Sunday’s quake, the Associated Press reported, adding that several villages have been destroyed.

Sunday’s shockwaves hit the same region of Afghanistan that was struck by large earthquakes last week, killing about 2,000 people according to Taliban officials, and flattening whole villages in Herat. 90% of those who lost their lives were women and children, UNICEF said on Thursday.

“Women and children are often at home, tending to the household and caring for children, so when structures collapse, they are the most at risk,” UNICEF’s Siddig Ibrahim said last week.

Hundreds of mud-brick homes were destroyed in the initial series of earthquakes. Schools, clinics and other facilities were also flattened. At least six villages in the rural Zenda Jan district were completely destroyed.

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