The western province of Herat in Afghanistan has been hit with a magnitude 6.3 earthquake – its third since powerful quakes on October 8 killed more than 2,000 people.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake hit just after 8am (03:30 GMT) on Sunday, with the epicentre 33km (21 miles) northwest of Herat city, the capital of the eponymous western province.
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It was followed by a magnitude 5.5 aftershock 20 minutes later, it said.
The effect of Sunday’s earthquakes is still unclear, but the AFP news agency quoted Abdul Qadeem Mohammadi, head doctor at Herat Regional Hospital, as saying “so far 93 injured and one dead have been registered”.
Another magnitude 6.3 earthquake had hit about 40km (25 miles) northwest of Herat eight days ago, with several strong aftershocks of lesser magnitude following.
That earthquake had proven devastating, levelling a large number of rural homes and killing 2,053 people, according to Taliban officials.
The area suffered another strong earthquake days later, which killed one person as many citizens had started sleeping outside for fear of more aftershocks.
Reports indicate many citizens of the area still slept outside as the quake hit on Sunday, fearing their homes crumbling and trapping them under rubble.
Dust storms followed the quakes, which only made living situations worse and damaged the tents that survivors lived in.
“Herat’s people are panicked and scared,” AFP quoted 27-year-old shopkeeper Hamid Nizami as saying. “It’s Allah’s blessing that it happened during the day, people were awake.”
“Many of our countrymen don’t have any place to live and nights are getting colder.”
As thousands still live around the ruins of homes where entire families were wiped out in an instant last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly 20,000 people have been affected by the string of disasters, with women and children making up most of the deaths.
Taliban authorities, who seized power in August 2021 after the withdrawal of US forces, are struggling to provide assistance as the country is already facing a humanitarian challenge, and does not have strong relations with international aid organisations.
Many volunteers had to dig up survivors and bodies with nothing but their bare hands after last week’s earthquakes.
No country has officially recognised the Taliban government, and Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis was exacerbated after many countries withdrew foreign aid.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies