Afghanistan Earthquake: Death toll mounts to 2060, rescue operations ongoing

The death toll in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which hit war-hit Afghanistan's Herat region on Saturday, has touched 2,060.

UNICEF staff are providing support following the earthquake in Herat province in Afghanistan. Photo Courtesy: UNICEF/Rebecca Phwitiko

So far, 900 people reportedly sustained injuries in the quake.

Abdulwahid Ryan, the head of the Ministry of Information and Culture of Herat Province, told Khaama Press that the latest figures for earthquake casualties in Herat are close to 3,000 people.

The epicentre of the quake is located 40 kilometres northwest of the city of Herat.

Bilal Karimi, the deputy spokesperson for the Taliban administration, also reported that more than 1,000 people have died in this natural disaster, and hundreds of others have been injured, a Khaama Press report stated.

Afghanistan, a country which has seen several years of war and the capturing of power by Taliban forces in 2021, experiences frequent earthquakes.

The earthquakes are mostly reported from the Hindu Kush mountain range as it lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

Meanwhile, rescue workers are trying hard to pull out people trapped under rubble.

UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities continued to mount emergency operations.

“The United Nations and our partners in Afghanistan are coordinating with the de facto authorities to swiftly assess needs and provide emergency assistance,” UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said.

To support the ongoing response, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator approved a $5 million emergency reserve allocation from the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, which OCHA will launch and fully process within 24 hours with eligible partners able to utilize their grants effective 9 October.

Humanitarian partners will also develop an emergency appeal, the agency said.

On the ground, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) deployed more teams to join ongoing humanitarian efforts. The agency dispatched 10,000 hygiene kits, 5,000 family kits, 1,500 sets of winter clothes, blankets, 1,000 tarpaulins, and basic household items, which will complement support provided by other UN agencies and partners.

“Together with our partners, we will make every effort to bring quick relief to those affected,” said Fran Equiza, the UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.

The injured were being treated in health facilities, with emergency drugs provided by UNICEF and partners, according to the agency, which also provided emergency tents for overburdened health clinics.

Working with the de-facto authorities, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Food Programme (WFP), and partners sent emergency assessment teams as part of an initial response. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the World Health Organization (WHO) continued to provide assistance.

International community must ‘come together’

UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, and extended his condolences to the families of the victims, and wished a swift recovery to those injured, the UN Spokesperson said.

“As winter approaches, the UN Secretary-General calls on the international community to come together and support people impacted by the earthquake, many of whom were already in need before this crisis,” he said.