Two strong earthquakes have shaken parts of western Afghanistan — leaving hundreds feared dead, with at least 15 confirmed killed.
The United Nations said at least 320 were dead, but later added that number was not verified. Local authorities said 100 people were killed and 500 injured, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said, according to The Associated Press.
Images shared by Afghan journalists showed at least one village reduced to rubble after a series of quakes flattened stone and mudbrick homes in the country’s west.
Other images showed the dead strewn about, covered out of respect, with blankets. They included children.
At least five earthquakes hit around noon, Herat city resident Abdul Shakor Samadi told the AP.
“All people are out of their homes,” Samadi said. “Houses, offices and shops are all empty and there are fears of more earthquakes. My family and I were inside our home, I felt the quake.” His family began shouting and ran outside, he told the news service.
Afghanistan’s Taliban government ferried away some of the wounded by helicopter.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that a pair of earthquakes had a magnitude of 6.3, and they were followed by aftershocks.
The World Health Organization’s office in Afghanistan said: “We have sent medicines & medical supplies to the hospitals to support treatment of those wounded. Our warehouse is ready to deploy for additional medicines as needed.”
In June 2022, a powerful earthquake struck a remote area of eastern Afghanistan killing more than 1,000.
Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest and malnourished countries — and it has been largely isolated since the Taliban seized power more than two years ago.