Afghan Earthquake Survivors Sleep outside Amid Rubble as Death Toll Surpasses 3,000

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Survivors of a series of powerful earthquakes that struck western Afghanistan on Saturday have spent a second night sleeping amid the rubble of demolished villages as they search for loved ones using shovels. The death toll is approaching 3,000, according to senior Taliban officials.

In the regional capital of Herat city people slept in public parks and streets, fearing further tremors. The United States Geological Survey reported quakes on Monday of magnitude 5.9, 4.9 and 4.7 in rural areas.

“We have concerns that there may be additional casualties in that area as well,” a Taliban official said. “Our teams are currently en route to provide assistance to those affected regions.”

Saturday’s 6.3-magnitude quake – followed by eight strong aftershocks – jolted hard-to-reach areas near Herat, toppling rural homes and sending panicked city dwellers into the streets. Afghanistan is already in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, with the widespread withdrawal of foreign aid after the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, which has had a severe impact on its healthcare system. The group also has fractious relations with international aid organisations after banning women from working for the UN and NGOs.


 
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