A powerful earthquake has struck Afghanistan, rocking the mountainous country and leaving a trail of death and destruction.
What happened and where?
A magnitude 6.3 earthquake followed by three strong aftershocks hit western Afghanistan on Saturday.According to authorities, about six villages were destroyed and hundreds of people were buried under the debris.
Where did it happen?
The main earthquake hit about 40km (25 miles) northwest of Herat, capital of Herat province, the United States Geological Survey said.The first quake was followed by three strong aftershocks as well as tremors of lesser magnitude.
How many casualties?
Janan Sayeeq, spokesman for the Ministry of Disasters, said 2,053 people were killed, 9,240 injured, and 1,320 houses damaged or destroyed. The death toll spiked from 500, reported earlier on Sunday by the Red Crescent.More than 200 of those killed have been brought to various hospitals, said a Herat health department official, adding that most of them were women and children.The earthquakes come in a year when tremors in Turkey and Syria killed an estimated 50,000 people in February. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in earthquakes in Morocco in September.
What is the latest on the ground?
Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson based in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that many people were missing and rescue operations were under way to save people trapped under the rubble.Shaheen said there was an urgent need for tents, medical and food items in the areas hit by the disaster. He appealed to local business owners and NGOs to come forward to help people in need.On Sunday, people tried to dig out the dead and injured with their hands in Herat, clambering over rocks and debris. Survivors and victims, their faces grey with dust, were trapped under buildings that have crumbled to the ground.Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies