Afghan earthquake kills 2,445, Taliban says death toll rising

KABUL, Oct 8 (Reuters) – More than 2,400 people have been killed in earthquakes in Afghanistan, the Taliban administration said on Sunday, in the deadliest earthquake to hit the earthquake-prone mountainous country in years.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said Saturday’s earthquakes in the west of the country struck about 35 kilometers (20 miles) northwest of the city of Herat, with a magnitude of one of 6.3.

They were among the world’s deadliest earthquakes this year, with an estimated 50,000 killed in earthquakes in Turkey and Syria in February.

Janan Sayeeq, a spokesman for the disaster ministry, said in a message to Reuters that the death toll had risen to 2,445 but reduced the number of injured to “more than 2,000”. Earlier, he said that 9,240 people were injured.

Saeed also said that 1,320 houses have been damaged or destroyed. The Red Crescent reported on Sunday that the death toll had risen above 500.

Saeed told a press conference that ten rescue teams were present in the area, which borders Iran.

A Herat health department official, who identified himself as Dr. Danish, said more than 200 dead were brought to various hospitals, adding that most of them were women and children.

Danish said the bodies had been taken to “several places – military bases, hospitals”.

Beds were set up outside Herat’s main hospital to accommodate the flood of victims, pictures on social media showed.

Sohail Shaheen, head of the political office of the Taliban in Qatar, said in a message to the media that there is an urgent need for food, drinking water, medicine, clothes and tents for rescue and relief.

Herat’s medieval minarets suffered some damage, with photos showing cracks and fallen tiles on social media.

Surrounded by mountains, Afghanistan has a history of earthquakes, many in the rugged Hindu Kush region bordering Pakistan.

The death toll often rises when information is received from remote areas of a country where decades of war have destroyed infrastructure, and it is difficult to organize relief and rescue operations.

Afghanistan’s health care system, which relies almost entirely on foreign aid, has suffered severe cuts in the two years since the Taliban took power and much of the international aid, which has helped the economy The spine was held in place, stopped.

Diplomats and aid officials say the Taliban’s restrictions on women and concerns about coping with global humanitarian crises are forcing donors to pull back on financial aid. The Islamist government has ordered most Afghan female aid workers not to work, although there are exemptions in health and education.

In August, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said it would stop funding 25 Afghan hospitals due to financial constraints. It was not immediately clear if the hospital in Herat was on the list.

Resident Naseema said that earthquakes caused panic in Herat.

“People have left their homes, we are all on the streets,” he wrote in a text message to Reuters on Saturday, adding that aftershocks were being felt in the city.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report on Sunday that Herat province has a total of 202 public health facilities, including a large regional hospital where 500 deaths have occurred.

WHO said a large majority of facilities are small primary health centers and logistical challenges are hampering operations, especially in remote areas.

“While search and rescue operations are underway, the casualties in these areas are yet to be fully identified,” it said.

Reporting by Muhammad Younis Yawar in Kabul; Additional reporting by Areba Shahid and Jibran Pesham in Karachi; Edited by William Mallard and Sangiove Maglani

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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