The death toll has tragically risen to an estimated 2,000 in the wake of powerful earthquakes that struck western Afghanistan, making it one of the deadliest seismic events in the country in the past twenty years.
According to Suhail Shaheen, a senior Taliban leader and spokesperson based in Qatar, the numbers could potentially go even higher.
The epicenter of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake was Herat province, and many individuals remain missing, with rescue operations actively underway to locate and assist those trapped beneath the rubble.
Shaheen urgently called for tents, medical supplies, and food items to be dispatched to the affected areas.
He made an appeal to local businesses and NGOs, urging them to step forward and provide essential aid to those in dire need.
In Herat, survivors and bystanders banded together, using their bare hands to dig out the injured and the deceased from the debris of collapsed buildings.
One heart-wrenching video circulating online showed the rescue of a baby girl buried up to her neck in debris, with a hand cradling her tiny torso. It is uncertain whether the child’s mother survived the ordeal.
Abdul Wahid Rayan, spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Culture, shared the grim statistics: over 2,060 lives were lost, 1,240 individuals were injured, and 1,320 homes were destroyed.
The quake, which struck northwest of Herat city, triggered strong aftershocks, further compounding the devastation in nearby Badghis and Farah provinces. Multiple teams, including military and nonprofit organizations like the Red Crescent, were mobilized for rescue efforts.
International aid agencies also sprang into action. The United Nations deployed ambulances and medical teams to the affected region, while Doctors Without Borders set up medical tents. The Afghan Red Crescent Society dispatched teams for rescue and support.
Amid this tragedy, efforts were made to provide solace and aid. Afghan cricket star Rashid Khan pledged his Cricket World Cup fees to assist the earthquake survivors.
The Taliban’s deputy prime minister for economic affairs, Abdul Ghani Baradar, expressed condolences to the victims and their families.
This catastrophic earthquake is reminiscent of a similar disaster in June 2022, when eastern Afghanistan was struck by a powerful quake, claiming over 1,000 lives and injuring around 1,500 people.