5.3M Earthquake Kills at Least 26 in Afghanistan, Officials Say

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
January 18, 2022Updated: January 18, 2022

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck western Afghanistan on Monday, killing at least 26 people, officials said.

Baz Mohammad Sarwary, a spokesperson for the Qadis district in the western province of Badghis, told AFP that the victims were killed when the quake caused residential roofs to collapse. Four others were injured, he said.

“Five women and four children are among the 26 people killed in the earthquake,” Sarwary told the newswire.

He added that Taliban fighters have been able to reach some of the affected areas.

“But Badghis is a mountainous province, the number of casualties might go up,” he said, adding that heavy rain was also lashing the area.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake was magnitude 5.3.

Mullah Janan Saeqe, head of the Emergency Operations Centre of the Ministry of State for Emergency Affairs, said more than 700 houses had been damaged.

Sanullah Sabit, the head of the nursing unit at the main hospital in Badghis’ capital said they had received five patients injured in the quake, mostly with broken bones and fractures.

The quake was at a depth of 30 km (18.64 miles), according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.

It comes as the poverty-stricken nation faces a mounting humanitarian crisis. President Joe Biden in August last year withdrew all remaining U.S. troops from the country.

After the Taliban terrorist group seized control of the nation in August, Afghanistan’s economic crisis accelerated after international funding was suspended and billions of dollars of assets overseas were frozen.

The United Nations says nearly 23 million people—about 55 percent of the population—are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold

The White House said on Jan. 11 the the Biden administration plans to donate an extra $308 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, bringing the total U.S. aid to the country and Afghan refugees in the region to nearly $782 million since October.

Funds will used by independent humanitarian organizations to provide shelter, health care, winterization assistance, emergency food aid, water, sanitation and hygiene services, White House officials said.

The humanitarian assistance from the United States is “in response to the growing humanitarian needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and healthcare shortages, drought, malnutrition, and the winter season,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement at the time.

“The United States is committed to supporting the Afghan people and we continue to consider all options available to us. We stand with the people of Afghanistan,” Horne said.

An additional one million COVID-19 doses all also be donated to Afghanistan, the White House said, bringing the total to 4.3 million doses provided to the country.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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