Afghanistan earthquake death toll nears 2,500 – media
The death toll from the earthquake that struck Afghanistan on Saturday has risen to 2,445 while more than 9,200 people have been injured, the Xinhua news agency has reported. According to the outlet, 13 villages in the Zanda Jan district of Herat have been completely wiped out and many victims remain trapped under the rubble.
Afghan national and provincial authorities have deployed around a dozen rescue teams to assist the victims, the outlet reported. However, it added that a lack of equipment has forced local residents and rescuers to dig with their bare hands in search of survivors or bodies.
The Afghan director for Save the Children, Arshad Malik, described the scale of the damage as horrific. “The numbers affected by this tragedy are truly disturbing – and those numbers will rise as people are still trapped in the rubble of their homes in Herat,” said Malik, as he called for an “urgent injection” of funds from the international community.
The Financial Times reported, citing the head of the Taliban’s political office in Doha, Mohammad Sohail Shaheen, that the government intends to seek foreign help. In particular, Kabul is hoping to receive food, tents, and medicine.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society has already sent ten rescue teams and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, while Pakistan and China said they had contacted the Afghan authorities to assess immediate needs.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry also expressed solidarity with the Afghan people, emphasizing that it is “fully prepared to provide necessary assistance for recovery.”
“We express our sincere words of sympathy to the friendly Afghan people, the families of those killed, and those injured as a result of this natural disaster,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Monday. According to Russia’s presidential special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, Moscow has not received requests for help but is ready to consider any such appeal.
A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck on Saturday evening 40km west of the city of Herat. Strong aftershocks were felt in the neighboring provinces of Badghis and Farah. After the initial quake, several tremors of magnitude 5.9 and 5.5 were recorded, according to the US Geological Survey. The earthquake is among the world’s deadliest this year, after disasters in Turkey and Syria killed nearly 50,000 people in February.