Rescue Efforts Underway as Afghanistan Quakes Claim 2,000 Lives

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In the wake of powerful earthquakes, some of the deadliest to strike Afghanistan, villagers and rescue workers are engaged in a grim search for survivors among flattened homes and trapped bodies beneath the rubble.

In western Afghanistan, men are using their bare hands and shovels in desperate attempts to extract victims from the wreckage left by the devastating quakes. The ruling Taliban officials confirmed on Sunday that at least 2,053 people have lost their lives, nearly 10,000 have been injured, and more than 1,300 houses have been damaged or destroyed.

The magnitude 6.3 earthquake, which occurred on Saturday, struck a densely populated area near Herat, Afghanistan’s fourth-largest city, and was followed by powerful aftershocks. This death toll surpasses that of a June 2022 earthquake that hit eastern Afghanistan, causing extensive damage to homes and taking the lives of at least 1,000 people in a rugged, mountainous region.

Associated Press photographer Omid Haqjoo described the shock and devastation, with many unable to speak, while others cried and shouted.

Numerous teams, including military and nonprofit organizations like the Red Crescent, are actively engaged in rescue efforts. The Afghan Red Crescent Society, in particular, has deployed seven teams, with additional support arriving from neighboring provinces. The organization has established temporary camps for displaced individuals.

The International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency, has sent four ambulances staffed with doctors and psychosocial support counselors to the regional hospital. Several mobile health teams are en route to the severely affected Zenda Jan district.

Doctors Without Borders has erected five medical tents at Herat Regional Hospital to accommodate up to 80 patients. So far, authorities have treated over 300 patients with the assistance of the agency.

UNICEF has dispatched essential supplies, including winter clothing, blankets, and tarpaulins, as temperatures drop. Various aid groups, such as the World Food Programme, were already present at the scene, providing crucial items to those in need.

Powerful earthquakes in Afghanistan on October 7, 2023, have killed more than 2,000 people and injured nearly 10,000. 
Teams from an aid group described the destruction near Herat as much worse than initially feared with entire villages flattened
Save the Children said the scale of the damage was 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,” it said.

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