The Badghis province has been hit by an earthquake that has killed at least 26 people and damaged over 700 houses. Badghis is impoverished and particularly vulnerable to earthquakes as it sits in the Hindu Kush mountain range.
How vulnerable is Afghanistan to even a shallow earthquake? Very much so, say aid workers in the country, pointing to an earthquake measuring a mere 5.3 on the Richter scale that killed at least 26 people and brought down homes in the Qadis district of Badghis province bordering Turkmenistan. north-east of Kabul on Monday.
Provincial spokesman Baz Mohammad Sarwary said that several people were injured while more than 700 homes were damaged. He warned that the number of casualties could increase. Rescuers are working to remove debris even as it is raining heavily, he said.
“Buildings and homes that have had very little maintenance over decades just crumbled,” an aid worker attached to the Afghan Red Crescent Society told OWSA over a phone call. “Many homes are just poorly constructed,” he said. The aid worker did not want to be identified and said that he was not authorised to give out numbers of casualties.
The Hindu Kush mountain range encompassing Afghanistan has seen many earthquakes and Badghis is in a particularly seismic region.
The Red Crescent aid worker said that Badghis is a distant, neglected place. The mountainous province is about 900 kilometres from Kabul and is poorly connected. The province has reported drought since 2018. Together with the conflict in the country, the drought has impoverished people in the province.
“Nobody cares because it is so far away. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) provided 7,800 families with some seeds and fertilisers and hardly anybody came returned to see what happened to the people,” he said.
“Farmers asked for onion seeds during the drought as that is what generations of farmers here have been producing. Onion can be stored after harvest, especially because the roads are so bad.”
Image: For representational purposes only.