Afghanistan: 26 dead as 5.3 magnitude earthquake hits Badghis province; Taliban launches rescue operation

Images circulating on social media showed residents, including children, searching through the rubble of collapsed homes for belongings and essential items.

AFPUpdated: Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 06:39 PM IST
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Photo: AFP

Rescue workers on Tuesday searched for survivors after an earthquake in a remote western region of Afghanistan killed at least 26 people and damaged hundreds of houses, officials said.

Monday's 5.3-magnitude shallow quake jolted the province of Badghis and wrecked houses, mostly in Qadis district -- a rural area not easily accessible by road.

"The earthquake caused massive damage to houses, about 700 to 1,000 have been damaged," Badghis provincial spokesman Baz Mohammad Sarwary said in a video message.

"There is the possibility that the casualties could increase."

Images circulating on social media showed residents, including children, searching through the rubble of collapsed homes for belongings and essential items.

Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani said rescue workers were helping find survivors and transferring the wounded to local hospitals. A Taliban team was in the area assisting in the relief work.

Some of the victims, including women and children, died when the roofs of their houses collapsed, officials said.

The quake also inflicted damage on the residents of Muqr district but details, including casualties, were still unavailable.

The epicentre of the quake was near the city of Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis, less than 100 kilometres from the Turkmenistan border, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Afghanistan is already facing a humanitarian disaster, worsened by the Taliban takeover of the country in August when Western countries froze international aid and access to assets held abroad.

The United Nations has said it needs $5 billion in 2022 to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and offer the ravaged nation a future after 40 years of suffering.

A devastating drought has compounded the crisis, with earthquake-hit Qadis one of the worst affected areas.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

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