Rescue teams scoured through the rubble of collapsed buildings to search for survivors for the deadly twin earthquake in a remote western region of Afghanistan, that left at least 26 people, including four children, dead.
The earthquakes occurred one after the other on Monday in the already rain-battered north west province of Badghis, one of Afghanistan’s most impoverished and underdeveloped regions, near the border with Turkmenistan.
The 4.9 and 5.3 magnitude earthquakes struck near the city of Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis, just two hours apart with the first being felt at around 2pm local time, according to the data from the US Geological Society (USGS).
Badghis provincial spokesman Baz Mohammad Sarwary said the “earthquake caused massive damage” to about 700 to 1000 houses – mostly in the impoverished areas in the Qadis district.
“There is the possibility that the casualties could increase,” he said, suspecting that many families were still buried under the rubble.
The rescue operation continued on Tuesday as pictures and videos on state-owned Bakhtar news agency showed rescue workers removing clay bricks and other rubble with bare hands in an attempt to find the survivors.
The images showed people removing debris with the help of spear-shaped tools in front of houses with collapsed walls and roofs.
د بادغیس په قادس ولسوالۍ کې نن دوه بجې زلزله شوې چې په پایله کې یې د ښځو او ماشومانو په ګډون ۲۲ تنه وژل شوي او څلور نور ټپيان شوي دي.
دا په داسې حال کې ده چې زلزلې د یاد ولایت په مرکز کې هم درانه مالي زیانونه اړولي دي. pic.twitter.com/7mMsiH8Vs0
— Bakhtar News Agency (@BakhtarNA) January 17, 2022
“Five women and four children are among the 26 people killed in the earthquake,” said Mr Sarwary, adding four others were injured.
The injured are being transferred to local hospitals for treatment while rescue work is going on to find the survivours, said Taliban government spokesman Inamullah Samangani, adding that the government’s team was assisting in relief work.
Tremors were felt across the province in the afternoon, with unspecified damage in Mugr district and Qala-e-Naw.
Video: according to initials reports 12 people including women and children were killed and many houses damaged in an earthquake in western province of Badghis. #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/8iMM1fnUYn
— Alisher Shahir|علی شیر شهیر (@ashershahir) January 17, 2022
The Western countries froze international aid to Afghanistan and the country’s access to its assets abroad after the militant group seized power.
Qadis has suffered through years of the worst drought, managing with the help of little international aid it received in the past 20 years.
The frequent earthquakes have only added to the misery of the people, particularly those living in the shadow of Hindu Kush mountain range. Around 300 people were killed in 2015 in a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan.