At least 100 dead in Afghanistan after powerful earthquakes, U.N. says

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least 100 people were killed in earthquakes in western Afghanistan on Saturday, according to the United Nations, as local officials worried that hundreds more could still be buried under the rubble.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the surroundings of the Afghan city of Herat in the morning, destroying more than 450 houses and injuring hundreds, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an initial damage assessment Saturday night. Local officials later reported multiple powerful aftershocks.

Afghan officials feared that the destruction could come close to the damage caused by the quake that struck eastern Afghanistan last year, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring more than 1,600, according to government officials — one of the deadliest natural disasters in Afghanistan in decades.

Afghanistan earthquake kills more than 1,000, injures 1,600, officials say

While footage on social media on Saturday showed chaotic scenes in Herat, one of Afghanistan’s most populous cities, the damage was most severe to the west of the provincial capital. Most of the deaths were reported from eight villages around 25 miles from the city center, the U.N. and local officials said.

Haji Mullah Janan Saiq, a spokesman of the Afghan ministry of disaster management, said rescue operations were ongoing Saturday night, cautioning that the number of fatalities was likely to rise.

Several villages have “completely perished,” he said, and that one of them was home to up to 3,000 people.

Baz Muhammad Sarwari, a local resident, said he was on the second floor of a building in the earthquake zone when it started shaking. “I haven’t experienced such a powerful earthquake in my whole life,” he said.

Khan reported from Peshawar, Pakistan.

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