In a devastating turn of events, western Afghanistan was rocked by a powerful earthquake, leaving behind a trail of destruction and despair.
This seismic event, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, struck approximately 40km from the city of Herat, situated in close proximity to the Iranian border. This article delves into the tragic incident, recounting the loss of at least 15 lives and injuries to 78 individuals.
The Earthquake’s Impact
A City in Turmoil
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded the earthquake’s epicenter near Herat, occurring at around 11:00 local time (06:30 GMT). The aftermath of this natural disaster was nothing short of catastrophic. Numerous buildings sustained significant damage, resulting in people being trapped beneath the rubble.
A Series of Tremors
What made matters worse was the succession of powerful aftershocks that followed the initial earthquake. Witnesses reported scenes of horror as buildings trembled, plaster fell, and walls crumbled.
Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Herat, shared his terrifying experience as he said, “We were in our offices and suddenly the building started shaking. Wall plasters started to fall down and the walls got cracks, some walls and parts of the building collapsed.”
As the disaster unfolded, communication networks faltered, leaving many unable to contact their loved ones. The fear and uncertainty that gripped the affected population were palpable. Herat resident Bashir Ahmad conveyed his anxiety, saying, “I am not able to contact my family, network connections are disconnected. I am too worried and scared; it was horrifying.”
In the wake of the catastrophe, the city’s main hospital became a focal point for treating the injured. Over 70 individuals were rushed to the hospital for medical attention, according to a health official. The situation was dire, with many in critical condition. Student Idrees Arsala, one of the last to evacuate his classroom during the tremors, recounted, “The situation was very horrible, I have never experienced such a thing.”
Herat: A Cultural Hub in Turmoil
Herat, located 120km east of the Iranian border, holds the distinction of being the cultural capital of Afghanistan. Its rich history and heritage have made it a significant center of Afghan civilization. As of 2019 World Bank data, approximately 1.9 million people call Herat province their home.
Frequent Earthquakes in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s vulnerability to earthquakes is not a new phenomenon, particularly in the region of the Hindu Kush mountain range. This area is susceptible to seismic activity due to its proximity to the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. Tragedies like the recent earthquake in Herat serve as stark reminders of the unpredictable forces of nature that can disrupt lives and communities.
The earthquake in western Afghanistan has left a community in shock and mourning. With lives lost and many injured, the road to recovery will be long and arduous. As Afghanistan grapples with the aftermath of this disaster, it underscores the importance of preparedness and resilience in the face of nature’s fury.