May 24, 2022

Two earthquakes kill at least 26 people in western Afghanistan

Two earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.3 and then a magnitude of 4.9, according to the American Seismological Institute (USGS), struck Badghis province in western Afghanistan on Monday (January 17th). At least 26 people were killed, most by the collapse of the roofs of their houses, according to a report provided in the evening by the local authorities.

The earthquake could have claimed other victims, Baz Mohammad Sarwary, spokesman for the province of Badghis, told Agence France-Presse. The drama comes at a time when Afghanistan is already facing a catastrophic humanitarian situation, fueled by severe droughts during the year, which particularly affected remote and rural provinces such as Badghis.

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The situation was aggravated by the return to power of the Taliban in August, resulting in the suspension of massive international aid which financed nearly 80% of the country’s budget.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range which lies at the junction between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

These earthquakes can be particularly devastating due to the low resistance of rural Afghan homes. In 2015, nearly 200 people died in the country following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, which hit neighboring Pakistan even harder. Among the Afghan victims were then twelve young girls trampled in a crowd movement as they tried to get out of their tottering school.

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Le Monde with AP and AFP