No fewer than 2,000 people have been confirmed dead while over 9,000 others were reportedly injured in powerful earthquakes in Afghanistan, the Taliban-led government said.
In the midst of the chaos, the death toll from Saturday earthquakes increased from 500 reported this morning by a Red Crescent representative.
The quakes struck 35 kilometers northwest of Herat, with one registering 6.3 magnitude, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
According to a spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Disasters, 2,053 people were killed, 9,240 were injured, and 1,329 homes were damaged or destroyed.
A Herat health department official reported that more than 200 bodies had been delivered to several hospitals, with the majority of them being women and children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that more than 600 residences had been torn down or partially damaged in at least 12 villages in Herat province, affecting 4,200 people.
Afghanistan is already in the throes of a severe humanitarian catastrophe, as a result of the massive pullout of foreign aid after the Taliban’s return to power in 2021.
Herat province, which has a population of over 1.9 million people and borders Iran, has also been plagued by a years-long drought that has crippled several agricultural towns.
Earthquakes occur often in Afghanistan, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which is located near the confluence of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
More than 1,000 people died and tens of thousands were displaced in June last year when a 5.9-magnitude earthquake devastated the poor province of Paktika, the deadliest in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter-century.