Four children among 26 dead in twin Afghanistan earthquakes as rescuers search for survivors

Officials warned the death toll could climb as rescuers combed the debris

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 18 January 2022 12:44
<p>Rescue workers look through debris in the aftermath of two successive earthquakes in Badghis province of Afghanistan </p>

Rescue workers look through debris in the aftermath of two successive earthquakes in Badghis province of Afghanistan

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.

“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.

Earthquakes are the latest humanitarian tragedy to hit the region amid a string of disasters in Badghis, which is still reeling under the impact of the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August.

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.

A family clears rubble from their house after it was damaged by an earthquake in the Behsud district of Nangarhar Province on 28 October 2015

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.

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