KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) — Two moderate earthquakes shook a mountainous region of northeastern Afghanistan on Monday morning, triggering a landslide which killed at least three people and left dozens more missing, rescue workers said.
The initial 5.4-magnitude earthquake at 9:32 a.m. local time was centered about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Nahrin, a small town in Baghlan province, at a depth of just 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). It was followed by a stronger 5.7-magnitude earthquake about 27 minutes later.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated approximately 126,000 people near the epicenter may have experienced strong shaking, which is capable of causing light to moderate damage. Another 13.5 million people were estimated to have felt weak to moderate shaking, and residents as far away as the capital Kabul reported feeling the earthquake.
The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) said the earthquake triggered a landslide that buried the remote village of Jan Mohammad in the Burka district, killing at least three people and leaving up to 80 people missing. Afghan officials feared there would be no survivors.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that houses were also destroyed by the earthquake in the districts of Nahrin, Guzargahi Nur, Khost Wa Fereng and Khwaja Hijran, but it was not immediately known if there were any casualties in those districts.
“A rescue operation by Afghan Red Crescent Society, Afghan Police and local communities is under way,” OCHA spokesman Christophe Verhellen said in a statement. “While search and rescue is going on, combined with rapid needs assessment, the needs are likely to be on emergency shelter, food, health (medical treatment), WASH and protection of civilians.”
Northern Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are regularly hit by moderate and strong earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range.