The death toll from Saturday's massive earthquake that hit the northwestern part of Afghanistan has shot up to 2,000 with nearly 10,000 injured as rescue workers scrambled to pull out an unknown number of people trapped under rubble, officials and local media reported. Afghanistan Disaster Management Authority said that some 2,053 deaths have been confirmed, while 9,249 people were hurt. More than 1,300 houses have been partially or fully destroyed in the earthquake. State-run Bakhtar News Agency, citing Afghan Red Cresent, reported that some 12 villages in the Zinda Jan and Ghorian districts of Herat province - home to 1.9 million people - have been "completely destroyed." Rescue teams along with local men are struggling to pull out the dead and injured trapped under the razed houses. On Saturday, Afghanistan Disaster Management Authority's spokesperson Mullah Janan Saiq said the death toll could further rise, adding that the tremors caused heavy damage in northwestern Herat and Badghis provinces. "Three villages in Herat province were completely destroyed, and hundreds of people are still trapped under the debris," Saiq told Anadolu over the phone. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), strong earthquakes of magnitude 5.5, 5.9, and 6.2 jolted the Afghan provinces. It said the epicenter was 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) northwest of Herat city. The World Health Organization's Afghanistan office said its teams were in hospitals assisting treatment of wounded and assessing additional needs. The war-torn country is currently grappling with a humanitarian crisis on the heels of the withdrawal of aid by foreign countries and organizations since the Taliban re-captured Kabul two years ago. Afghanistan is frequently struck by tremors, mainly in the Hindukush mountain range, which sits near the confluence of Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in June last year killed over 1,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless in the Paktika province.
Source: Philippines News Agency