Kabul, Oct 9 (EFE).- A new 4.9 magnitude earthquake rattled Afghanistan on Monday, further complicating ongoing rescue operations in the aftermath of a devastating tremor over the weekend, which claimed the lives of thousands of people and left thousands more homeless.
The epicenter of the latest earthquake was located 33 km from the city of Herat in western Afghanistan, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
On Saturday, a deadly 6.3 magnitude tremor struck Herat, leveling hundreds of residential houses, particularly hitting the Zindah Jan district in the western Afghan province.
Authorities have confirmed that the earthquake over the weekend and at least six strong aftershocks caused over 2,400 deaths and caused injuries to more than 2,000.
As of now, over 500 people are still missing, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The tragedy has overwhelmed the impoverished country, with hospitals operating beyond capacity and insufficient resources to care for the victims.
In Zindah Jan, residents are using their bare hands to extricate their loved ones from the rubble, holding onto hope of finding survivors.
“The situation is far from normal,” Ghulam Yahya, a Herat resident who witnessed this morning’s tremor, told EFE. “The fear is palpable. Many spent the night outdoors, and the hospital is struggling to cope with the influx of injured patients due to insufficient resources.”
Afghanistan is situated within the Hindu Kush mountain range, an area known for its high seismic activity and a common source of earthquakes in the surrounding regions.
Consequently, Afghanistan is highly susceptible to natural disasters, and its vulnerable population and inadequate infrastructure exacerbate the challenges posed by such events.
The country has experienced numerous earthquakes in the past, particularly in the Hindu Kush region.
In June last year, an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 in the eastern Afghan provinces of Paktika and Khost, bordering Pakistan, caused over 1,000 deaths and destroyed hundreds of homes.
More than 100 people died in Afghanistan and over 300 in neighboring Pakistan in October 2015 due to a 7.7-magnitude earthquake that had its epicenter in the far northeast of Afghanistan.
In January last year, 22 people died in a 5.3-magnitude earthquake that struck a rural area of the northwestern Badghis province.
A devastating quake in 1998 in the northern region killed approximately 4,000 people. In May of that year, a tremor hit the area again, resulting in about 5,000 fatalities. EFE