KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) — The death toll from two shallow earthquakes which struck a mountainous region of northeastern Afghanistan last week has risen to at least 75, the United Nations (UN) disaster response agency said on Tuesday. Hundreds of buildings were damaged.
The first earthquake of magnitude 5.4 struck about 15 kilometers (12 miles) east of Nahrin, a small town in Baghlan province, at 9:32 a.m. local time on June 11. It was followed less than half an hour later by a 5.7-magnitude earthquake which struck the same area and at a depth of just 31.3 kilometers (19.4 miles).
The tremors triggered a landslide that wiped out the remote village of Jan Mohammad in the Burka district, burying more than 70 people and injuring several others. The search-and-rescue operation ended on Saturday with only five bodies recovered, and local officials decided to declare the area a mass grave and name it the ‘Hill of the Martyrs.’
The Afghanistan office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at least 71 people were killed in the landslide, and six others were injured. The office said 30 houses were destroyed in Burka district, 24 houses were damaged and four schools were damaged.
Three people were killed in Nahrin district and another fatality was reported in the Guzargahi Nur district.
“The earthquakes claimed 75 lives in four districts of Baghlan province, while another 13 people were injured,” OCHA spokesman Christophe Verhellen said. “In Baghlan province, 114 houses were destroyed, 580 houses were damaged, 10 schools were damaged as well as three mosques in four different districts of Burka, Nahrin, Khost Wa Fereng and Guzargahi Nur.”
The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) said the impact of the earthquakes was also felt in neighboring Takhar province where homes were destroyed and damaged in the villages of Kuka Bulaq, Sari Qishlaq, Kulabi, Nawabad Khurd and Zadran in Ishkamish district. An inter-agency assessment found no casualties in the district but reported a total of 18 houses which were destroyed, 14 houses which were damaged and 18 families who were displaced to neighboring villages.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) said on Tuesday that it believes at least 90 people were killed in Jan Mohammad. “In this event, many families have been affected and have lost their lives, including women and children,” the North West Regional Zone manager of ARCS said, adding that the overall death toll could be as high as 100.
Northern Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan are regularly hit by moderate and strong earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range.