At least 120 people were killed in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that shook western Afghanistan on Saturday morning. “But this is not the final tally. We have heard that there are still people buried under the rubble,” said Muhammad Talib Shahid, director of public health in Herat province.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located 40 kilometers northwest of Herat – the cultural capital of Afghanistan – and it was quickly followed by four aftershocks measuring 5.5, 4.7, 6.3 and 5.9.
The first reports from the US Geological Survey indicated a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. The institute warned that “it is likely that there will be a large number of casualties and that the disaster is likely to be widespread.”
In Herat, which has a population of 1.9 million, residents and shopkeepers fled buildings when the quake struck around 11 a.m. local time. “We were in our offices when the building suddenly started shaking and wall coverings started falling. The walls cracked and part of the building collapsed,” said a 45-year-old eyewitness. He was unable to reach his family because network connections stopped working.
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