A major earthquake struck Herat, Afghanistan early Saturday killing at least 100 people and triggering a spate of rescue and assessment missions by UN agencies, partners, and the de facto authorities.
Initial assessments indicate that the 6.3 magnitude quake caused deaths across eight villages, with a further 500 people injured, according to the latest update from the UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA), which reported that it destroyed 465 houses and damaged another 135. Mahal Wadakah was the worst affected village.
Partners and local authorities anticipated the number of casualties to increase as search and rescue efforts continued amid reports that some people may be trapped under collapsed buildings.
After striking 40 kilometres west of Herat, in western Afghanistan, around 11 a.m. local time, several aftershocks have since occurred, with the initial quake felt in neighbouring Badghis and Farah provinces, according to OCHA.
In total, 4,200 people, or about 600 families, are assessed to have been affected to date, including 1,400 internally displaced persons, the UN agency said.
Coordinating with the de-facto authorities, including the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Food Programme (WFP), and other aid agencies deployed five emergency assessment teams as part of an initial response.
Humanitarian partners have initiated relief efforts, deploying medical and trauma support to regional hospitals alongside emergency shelter, food, supplies, and assistance to people in affected areas.
o date, 200 people are receiving emergency trauma care in Herat Provincial Hospital, where the World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed three trauma kits sufficient to treat 150 surgeries.
At the same time, IOM and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, will provide emergency shelter support to 700 families, including 640 tents, blankets, and other needed items.
WFP will dispatch high-energy biscuits for 710 affected households across several villages in the Zindajan district, and the UN Agency for Reproductive Health (UNFPA) will provide 1,300 dignity kits for women and girls.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is expected to deploy an emergency response team to Zindajan today.