(CNN) — At least 2,053 people have been killed in a powerful earthquake that struck western Afghanistan, the Taliban said on Sunday, as the country reeled from another natural disaster amid a deep economic crisis.
The deaths were reported in 13 villages in the western province of Herat. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mojahid X said in a post on Twitter that 1,240 people were injured and 1,320 houses were completely or partially destroyed.
Mojahid added that ten rescue teams had arrived in Herat province and that food, water, medicine and clothes had been sent to the area.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit 40 kilometers west of Herat city in Herat province on Saturday, the third major earthquake in Afghanistan.
Earlier, Abdul Waheed Rayan, a senior Taliban official at the Ministry of Information and Culture, told CNN they estimated nearly 2,000 people had been killed. But he warned that the number could rise further due to ongoing rescue efforts and the number of people trapped under the rubble.
The initial quake was also felt in the neighboring provinces of Batkis and Farah, followed by several aftershocks.
Earlier UN estimates indicated a lower toll: around 100 dead and 500 injured. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 500 homes were destroyed and 135 buildings were damaged.
“In total, an estimated 4,200 people (600 families) have been affected to date,” OCHA said.
Images showed large piles of rubble and rubble after buildings collapsed. Survivors gathered in the streets seeking safety.
“Mahal Vadaga remains the worst-affected village,” the UN said, reporting at least 20 deaths. Dasht House, Bahadorzai, Zorian and Koshkak are the other worst affected areas.
“Furthermore, 300 families (about 2,100 people) have been displaced to the city of Herat, where they are living in abandoned buildings.”
Afghanistan has suffered significant damage from a recent series of earthquakes amid a severe famine and economic crisis that have collectively killed and displaced tens of thousands of people.
The country has long been one of the poorest countries in Asia and has been ravaged by decades of conflict. But the ability to respond to natural disasters has been further hampered since the Taliban seized power in 2021 following a chaotic US withdrawal, prompting the withdrawal of many international aid groups.
This led Washington and its allies to freeze the country’s roughly $7 billion in foreign reserves and cut off international funding. The situation has crippled an economy already heavily dependent on aid.
Last week, the World Bank warned that two-thirds of Afghan households now face “significant challenges in maintaining their livelihoods”.
This makes it more difficult for Afghans to recover from earthquakes, a common occurrence in a country that experiences frequent seismic activity.
In March, a devastating earthquake struck northeastern Afghanistan, forcing residents to flee their homes, collapsing entire buildings and triggering devastating landslides.
Tremors were felt in several major cities of Pakistan and as far away as the Indian capital, New Delhi.
A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck the eastern provinces of Paktika and Khost, which border Pakistan, in June, killing more than 1,000 people.
The earthquake coincided with heavy monsoon rains and winds, which greatly affected search efforts and helicopter travel.
On January 17, 2022, a 5.6-magnitude earthquake hit Batkis, another western province near Herat, on the border with Turkmenistan, killing more than 20 people and collapsing hundreds of brick houses.
— CNN’s Ehsan Popalzai contributed to this report.
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