A powerful earthquake struck Afghanistan’s western province of Herat on Wednesday, prompting authorities to redirect relief and rescue teams already engaged in response to a series of deadly earthquakes just days earlier.
As of now, there are no reports of casualties from the latest quake, according to disaster management spokesperson Janan Sayeeq. However, provincial officials have reported the destruction of hundreds of homes. The governor’s office in Herat stated that certain areas had incurred “significant losses,” though specific details were not provided.
“Mobile medical teams and officials have been collaborating to transport several injured individuals to hospitals,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
The recent tremors on Saturday resulted in at least 2,400 fatalities and more than 2,000 injuries, as reported by Afghanistan’s Taliban-run government. This series of earthquakes ranks among the deadliest globally this year, with women and children comprising the majority of casualties, according to the World Health Organization.
The German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) has determined that the latest quake had a magnitude of 6.3 and occurred at a depth of 10 km (6.21 miles).
Afghanistan, surrounded by mountainous terrain, has a history of significant earthquakes, particularly in the rugged Hindu Kush region adjacent to Pakistan. Herat province shares a border with Iran, which has pledged to provide humanitarian aid.
In the central district of Rubat Sangi, heavily impacted by the Saturday quakes, at least 200 homes were partially or entirely destroyed, said Governor Noor Ahmad Shahab, emphasizing that residents had experienced “significant financial losses.” Thus far, no casualties have been reported, as many villagers were already seeking shelter outdoors or in tents due to the earlier earthquakes.
“People require urgent assistance,” Shahab urged, pointing out that survivors are at risk of falling ill due to the cold autumn weather.
The recovery and rescue operations following the Saturday earthquakes have faced obstacles due to decades of war-related damage to infrastructure and a decline in foreign aid, which once underpinned the nation’s economy but has since dwindled following the Taliban’s takeover.
Afghanistan’s healthcare system, which was largely dependent on foreign aid, has also suffered from severe cuts.
The European Union has pledged 2.5 million euros ($2.65 million) to support humanitarian partners engaged in relief efforts, in addition to the 89 million euros allocated for humanitarian aid in 2023. The EU is providing shelter kits, winter tents, hygiene kits, and other relief supplies.
Countries including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and China have also promised to send food, blankets, medicines, tents, and financial aid. The United Nations’ humanitarian office has allocated $5 million in assistance.