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Afghanistan earthquake: Hundreds feared dead in 6.3 quake

Hundreds of people are feared dead after a powerful earthquake hit western Afghanistan, near the Iranian border.

Some estimates put the death toll much higher. The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated at least 12 villages near the city of Herat on Saturday.

Channel 1

There were powerful aftershocks. Survivors described their terror as buildings collapsed around them.

Rescue workers worked through the night trying to find survivors trapped beneath the rubble.

Thousands of people have been injured.

In a country with sorely inadequate medical facilities, hospitals are struggling to treat the injured. The UN and other organisations have begun to rush in emergency supplies.

The earthquake struck about 40km (25 miles) north-west of Herat at around 11:00 local time (06:30 GMT) on Saturday.

“We were in our offices and suddenly the building started shaking. Wall plaster started to fall down and the walls got cracks, some walls and parts of the building collapsed.” Herat resident Bashir Ahmad told AFP news agency.

“I am not able to contact my family… I am too worried and scared, it was horrifying,” he added.

The Taliban public health minister is visiting Herat to assess the scale of the impact.

Footage from Herat Central Hospital showed casualties linked up to intravenous drips being treated outside the main building – a sign of the sudden and overwhelming demand for emergency treatment.

Other pictures show scenes of devastation in Herat’s Injil district where rubble blocked roads, hampering rescue efforts.

“The situation was very horrible, I have never experienced such a thing,” student Idrees Arsala told AFP. He was the last to safely evacuate his classroom after the quakes began.

Herat is located 120km (75 miles) east of the Iranian border and is considered to be the cultural capital of Afghanistan. An estimated 1.9 million people are believed to be living in the province.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes – especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range as it lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In June last year, the province of Paktika was hit by a 5.9 magnitude quake which killed more than 1,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

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