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Two earthquakes strike Afghanistan, killing at least 27


By David Zucchino and Sharif Hassan


Two earthquakes struck a remote, mountainous area of western Afghanistan, killing at least 27 people and destroying hundreds of homes, officials said Tuesday.


The earthquakes occurred on Monday after three days of heavy rainfall, which left mud-brick houses vulnerable along the mountain slopes, said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, a spokesman for the governor in Badghis province, near the border with Turkmenistan.


Sarwari said hundreds of houses had been destroyed in impoverished areas in the Qadis District, in the southern part of the province. Men, women and children were killed, many of whom had been inside the buildings.


Azmatullah Sharifi, a resident of the affected district, said by telephone that the death toll would most likely rise significantly, because many families were still buried under the rubble.


Rescue teams were sent to the affected areas. Photos taken by residents and provided by Sarwari showed men and boys using their bare hands to remove clay bricks and other rubble, apparently trying to reach any survivors trapped in the debris.


The first quake struck just after 2 p.m. local time, east of the city of Qala-e-Naw, the capital of a province that the Taliban swept through in July on the way to capturing Kabul in August. It registered a magnitude of 4.9, according to the United States Geological Survey. The second struck about two hours later 6 miles away, registering a magnitude of 5.3.


Tremors from the quakes were felt across the province on Monday afternoon, causing damage as far away as Qala-e-Naw, officials said.


For civilians in Afghanistan, earthquakes have added to the misery of living through a war that has gone on for years. There have been several earthquakes in recent weeks along Afghanistan’s eastern borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan, data from the U.S. Geological Survey show. Most were magnitude 5 or less.


A quake in 2015 killed more than 300 people in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan. A similar one in the same region, 24 years earlier, inflicted a similar death toll.


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