HERAT—A series of devastating earthquakes struck the Herat Province in western Afghanistan on 7 October 2023, marking one of the deadliest natural disasters in the nation’s recent history. The twin quakes, both registering a magnitude of 6.3, occurred within a span of 31 minutes, catalysing a state of emergency across the affected areas.
The death toll, initially underestimated, soared to over 2,000 with an additional 9,240 individuals reported injured according to the latest figures. The substantial disparity in early casualty estimates underscored the escalating crisis, with the United Nations’ preliminary death toll of 320 swiftly overshadowed as rescue operations unveiled the magnitude of devastation.
Local authorities and international relief agencies have been mobilised to expedite rescue and recovery efforts amidst the rubble. The swift response aims to provide immediate medical aid to the injured, and to locate and rescue individuals trapped under debris. Moreover, temporary shelters, food, and water are being provided to those displaced by the disaster.
The Afghan government, under the helm of the Taliban, faces a colossal challenge in managing the aftermath of the catastrophe, a test to its administrative and humanitarian response capacities in times of crisis. The international community has also stepped in to provide aid, with several nations pledging support to alleviate the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Amidst the rescue and recovery operations, the geological experts are also conducting investigations to understand the cause and to explore measures to mitigate the repercussions of such calamities in the future. The twin earthquakes have also accentuated the discourse on bolstering infrastructural resilience and improving disaster preparedness to safeguard against future calamities.