Over 2,000 people are reported to be dead after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck Afghanistan on Saturday.
The densely populated area near Herat was the hardest hit.
The quake was followed by aftershocks measuring magnitude 6.3, 5.9, and 5.5, and some lesser shocks.
Rescue workers and volunteers were digging through the rubble with shovels and their hands trying to pull people from the wreckage on Sunday.
“Entire villages were flattened, bodies were trapped under collapsed houses and locals waited for help without even shovels to dig people out,” the Associated Press reports. “Living and dead, victims were trapped under rubble, their faces grey with dust.”
At least 1,300 homes were also destroyed in the natural disaster.
“Most people were shocked … some couldn’t even talk. But there were others who couldn’t stop crying and shouting,” photographer Omid Haqjoo, who visited four villages Sunday, told The Associated Press.
A Taliban government spokesperson said that if the death toll is confirmed, it would be the deadliest one to strike the country in two decades.
An earthquake in June 2022 killed approximately 1,000 Afghan people.
The AP reports, “People in Herat freed a baby girl from a collapsed building after she was buried up to her neck in debris. A hand cradled the baby’s torso as rescuers eased the child out of the ground. Rescuers said it was the baby’s mother. It was not clear if the mother survived.”
“There’s not much disaster management capacity and what there is can’t cover people on the ground,” said Salma Ben Aissa, the committee’s country director for Afghanistan told the outlet. “The numbers (of dead) are increasing hour by hour.”
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