Kabul, Jan 18 (EFE).- Afghan authorities on Tuesday raised the death toll from a 5.3 magnitude earthquake to 22, a day after it struck a rural area of the northwestern Badghis province, while hundreds of houses, most of them basic mud structures, have been destroyed.
“With great sadness, I have to say that 22 persons have been killed and 800 houses have collapsed in different districts of Badghies province, especially in the Qadis district,” Taliban government spokesperson Bilal Karimi Told EFE.
Rescue and relief operations were underway and the government had instructed “all the relevant agencies and the disaster management ministry to reach out to the vulnerable families for providing emergency assistance in the area,” Karimi said.
The earthquake, which was registered as a 5.3 magnitude event by the United States Geological Service, affected several towns of the Qadis district, resulting in the collapse of hundreds of houses.
Images of the tragedy showed at least one hamlet of mud houses seriously damaged by the quake, while bodies had been recovered from under the rubble.
“All the deaths are due to ceilings collapsing as most of the people of these areas are poor and live in mud houses,” local resident and eyewitness Mirwais Omari told EFE.
The disaster comes even as Afghanistan is facing a major humanitarian crisis triggered by months of draught, the onset of winter and the Taliban capturing power in August.
Afghanistan often witnesses earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush region, which sees high seismic activity and is the main point of origin for telluric movement in the region.
In October 2015, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake, with its epicenter in the extreme northeast of Afghanistan, killed more than 100 people in the country and around 300 in neighboring Pakistan, while over 2,000 people were injured. EFE