More than 50 feared dead in Afghan quakes

By AFP
Published: June 12, 2012

A double earthquake triggered a landslide that buried homes in northern Afghanistan. PHOTO: AFP

MAZAR-I-SHARIF: More than 50 people are feared dead after a double earthquake triggered a landslide that buried homes in northern Afghanistan, a senior official said on Tuesday.

A day after the earthquakes, between 50 and 70 people are thought to be trapped in Burka district, the worst-hit area in the province of Baghlan, authorities say.

“They might be dead as there is a lot of soil and removing this is very, very hard,” said provincial governor Munishi Abdul Majeed.

“We have sent excavators to the area but I don’t think they will be able to do much.”

Rescuers are struggling to free those trapped and more teams have been sent from Kabul to the disaster-hit village of Mullah Jan, Mohammad Nasir Kohzad, the head of the local natural disaster response team, told AFP.

Six people have been rescued with injuries, he added.

Officials have so far confirmed that only three bodies have been recovered.

Baghlan Police chief Assadullah Shirzad said two bulldozers were working to clear rubble at the village, much of which has been destroyed, and around 100 security forces were helping the search.

Two shallow quakes hit the region in the Hindu Kush mountains within half an hour on Monday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The first, with a magnitude of 5.4, struck at 9:32 am at a depth of 15 kilometres with the epicentre around 160 kilometres southwest of the town of Faizabad.

A more powerful tremor, measured at 5.7 magnitude, hit around 25 minutes later in almost exactly the same place, USGS said.

Buildings were felt shaking slightly in Kabul, around 170 kilometres to the south, during both quakes.

Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are frequently hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range, which lies near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

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