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Three powerful earthquakes hit Afghanistan in 30 minutes



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Three earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.2, 6.1, and 5.9 struck within half the western part of Afghanistan on Saturday.

The latest earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.2, was reported at 12:42 pm, following earlier quakes of 5.6 at 12:19 pm and 6.1 at 12:11 pm.

The epicentre of the seismic activity has been identified as 40 kilometres northwest of the city of Herat.

Journalists in the city said residents and shopkeepers fled buildings when the first quake struck but that there were not yet reports of casualties or structural damage.

“People are worried and terrified. Women, men, and children—everyone is out of their homes,” he said. “There have been aftershocks. Everyone is scared and tense. No one wants to stay inside.”

Hundreds of fatalities were possible, according to a USGS preliminary report.

“Significant casualties are likely, and the disaster is potentially widespread. Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national-level response,” it said.

The USGS had earlier reported the shallow quake’s magnitude as 6.2.

Herat, 120 kilometres east of the border with Iran, is considered the cultural capital of Afghanistan.

It is the capital of Herat province, which is home to an estimated population of 1.9 million, according to 2019 World Bank data.

In June last year, more than 1,000 people were killed and tens of thousands were made homeless after a 5.9-magnitude quake—the deadliest in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter of a century—struck the impoverished province of Paktika.

In March of this year, 13 people were killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by a magnitude-6.5 quake that hit near Jurm in northeastern Afghanistan.

Earthquakes frequently strike the nation, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which is close to the meeting point of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

Afghanistan is already in the grip of a grinding humanitarian crisis with the widespread withdrawal of foreign aid since the Taliban returned to power in 2021.

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