Rescuers search for survivors days after deadly quakes hit Afghanistan

Rescue workers on Monday scrambled to pull out survivors, and the dead, from beneath the rubble two days after the northwestern city of Herat and its surroundings were struck by the deadliest earthquakes to rattle Afghanistan in years.

According to the China Earthquake Networks Center, two earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.2 jolted Afghanistan on Saturday. The first tremor occurred at around 11:10 local time (0640 GMT).

The death toll from the earthquakes in western Afghanistan provinces has risen to 2,445, Herat authorities said Sunday night, which were among the world’s deadliest this year after tremors in Türkiye and Syria, in which an estimated 50,000 people were killed.

Neighbors Pakistan and Iran have offered to send rescue workers and humanitarian aid, while the Red Cross Society of China on Sunday said it has decided to provide the Afghan Red Crescent with $200,000 in cash as emergency humanitarian assistance to aid its rescue and disaster relief efforts.

“The operation is still going on, still some people are being pulling out of the rubble,” Nisar Ahmad Elias, spokesman for the governor of Herat was quoted as saying by Reuters, adding that more than a dozen villages around Herat were also affected.

Many buildings in Herat city were relatively unaffected, but the mediaeval minarets of its famous mosques sustained some damage, photographs on social media showed.

The most affected area is the Zanda Jan district in Herat, where 13 villages have been “utterly destroyed,” said Mawlawi Musa Ashari, Herat’s provincial director for the National Disaster Management Authority.

Earlier on Sunday, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority, Mullah Janan Shaeq, said more than 9,200 people had been injured during the quakes.

Hemmed in by mountains, Afghanistan has a history of strong earthquakes.

In a statement late on the day, the UN Humanitarian Office put the death toll from the quakes at 1,023, with an additional 1,663 people injured, and more than 500 missing.

(With input from agencies)

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