inda Jan In the remote village of Zinda Jan, Afghanistan, a persistent sense of hope drives the efforts of Afghanistan rescue teams and local villagers. They are tirelessly working together, refusing to give up on the possibility of finding survivors amidst the rubble.
This determination persists even as three days have passed since the devastating earthquake struck, claiming the lives of over 2,000 individuals in the western Herat province.
Afghanistan still hope from quake
In other parts of Herat, residents are tasked with preparing final resting places for their dearly departed, who tragically lost their lives in the powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake that occurred last Saturday.
In the desolate expanse of the Zinda Jan district, a bulldozer is diligently at work, meticulously clearing the ground to create a sombre, orderly procession of graves.
Mir Agha, hailing from the city of Herat, expressed the profound challenge of searching for loved ones amidst the wreckage of their homes, only to, moments later, lay them to rest in nearby graves beneath the earth.
He is among the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who have aided Zinda Jan’s residents during this difficult time.
Over vast stretches of arid hills, what remains of these once-thriving villages is now reduced to mere debris and the solemn ceremonies of funerals.
Afghanistan Taliban Government
In the village of Naib Rafi, which was once home to approximately 2,500 residents, survivors report that there are scarcely any individuals left alive, except for those men who were outdoors when the earthquake struck.
These fortunate survivors have dedicated their entire day to operating excavators, labouring tirelessly to dig extensive trenches for mass burials.
Janan Sayiq, the spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban government’s national disaster authority, acknowledged the earthquake’s devastating impact, with thousands of lives lost or altered due to injuries.
However, he was unable to provide a detailed breakdown of the casualties. Before this, officials from the Taliban had reported that the death toll in Herat alone had surpassed 2,000.
U.S. Geological Survey.
The earthquake’s epicentre was approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Herat, the province’s capital, as confirmed by the U.S. Geological Survey.
A series of powerful aftershocks have been recorded, with one occurring on Monday, prompting city residents to evacuate their homes in response.
According to the United Nations, the Zinda Jan district is the most severely impacted region, recording a tragic toll of 1,294 fatalities and 1,688 injuries. Additionally, 485 individuals, comprising 191 men and 294 women, remain unaccounted for in this area. According to the U.N, six schools in the district have been reported as destroyed.
The earthquake’s devastation extended to nearly 2,000 houses across 20 villages, as reported by the Taliban. It is crucial to note that the affected area has only one government-operated hospital to provide medical care and support in this dire situation.
As the winter season draws near, humanitarian organizations have cautioned that the recent disaster will significantly exacerbate the challenges people face in meeting their fundamental requirements, including shelter, sustenance, and medical supplies.
The extent of foreign aid reaching Herat since Saturday remains uncertain.
The international response to the earthquake has been sluggish, with many nations exhibiting caution in engaging directly with the Taliban-led government.
Much of the world’s attention has been diverted toward the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians following the unexpected attack by Gaza militants on Saturday.
Pakistan has committed to dispatching a supply of blankets, tents, and essential medications, while China has reportedly offered financial support and other urgent humanitarian assistance.
Numerous foreign governments intend to collaborate with local aid organizations on rescue and recovery efforts. Meanwhile, Afghans have initiated fundraising initiatives to contribute to the relief efforts.
As for the quantity of aid that has reached Afghanistan from foreign sources, authorities in Kabul have yet to provide any information in response to queries.
The justice ministry under the Taliban government has appealed to both national and international charitable foundations, business figures, and Afghan citizens to come together and gather aid for the afflicted province.
The ministry emphasized the urgent need for humanitarian assistance due to the extensive damage and casualties resulting from the earthquake in Herat province.
On Monday, Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy prime minister for economic affairs appointed by the Taliban and his team, personally visited the earthquake-affected region.
Their mission was to provide “immediate relief assistance” and ensure the fair and efficient distribution of aid, as confirmed by authorities. Notably, the Taliban’s supreme leader has not made any public statements regarding the earthquake.
Meanwhile, senior United Nations officials in Afghanistan also travelled to Zinda Jan to assess the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake.
The government convened a special session across the border in neighbouring Pakistan to deliberate on aid measures for Afghanistan. This comprehensive review encompassed considerations such as relief teams, provisions of food and medicine, and the supply of tents and blankets.
Crucial infrastructure, including bridges, has suffered extensive damage, prompting the deployment of emergency response teams to facilitate humanitarian aid, as reported by the International Rescue Committee.
western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.
Over 35 teams, consisting of military personnel and nonprofit organizations, are actively engaged in rescue operations, according to Sayiq, the spokesperson from the disaster authority.
Afghanistan’s population continues to grapple with the aftermath of recent calamities, including the 6.5 magnitude earthquake in March that affected vast areas of both western Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.
Additionally, a devastating earthquake in the east of Afghanistan in June 2022 destroyed numerous stone and mud-brick houses and claimed the lives of a minimum of 1,000 individuals.