Third strong earthquake in two months kills dozens in northern Afghanistan
Friday, April 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ An earthquake shook northern Afghanistan on Friday morning, leaving a village in ruins and killing more than 30 people, aid officials said. At least 100 others were injured.
The quake struck at 8:30 a.m. with a magnitude of 5.8, according to the U.S.-based National Earthquake Information Center. It was centered near the site of a devastating March 25 quake that killed as many as 1,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
Most of the casualties Friday were in the village of Doabi, 90 miles northeast of the capital, Kabul, said Hugues Belloc, an official with the French aid group ACTED.
``Many buildings collapsed and a lot of people were buried under the rubble,'' Belloc said by satellite phone from nearby Pul-i-Khumri.
A U.N. official, Fahrana Faruqi, said the quake also hit other villages, including Nahrin, which was heavily damaged in the March 25 quake and where many still live in tents. She put the overall death toll at least 37 and said 120 people were injured.
Faruqi said U.N. helicopters had flown to Doabi to gauge the extent of the damage and determine what the victims needed.
``It's basically all flat. Not a single house is standing there,'' Faruqi said by satellite phone from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Friday's quake was the third to strike northern Afghanistan in less than two months. A March 3 quake with a 7.2 magnitude was the strongest in the Hindu Kush mountain region since 1983.
Ahmad Shouab, aide to a local commander in Pul-i-Khumri, said several shops and buildings there collapsed in Friday's quake.
One aid worker said rocks let loose from the mountains posed more of a threat than collapsing buildings.
``It's a very mountainous region and the tents are standing in valleys,'' said Joerg Denker, the northern Afghanistan program manager with the aid group Mercy Corps. ``The problem is not that the houses are falling, it's that the rocks are coming down from the mountains.''
Denker, who is based about 55 miles north of Nahrin, said he was told by partner organizations close to the epicenter that Friday's quake was closer to the surface than the last. Quakes closer to the surface can often do more damage than would be apparent from their magnitude.
``We could feel it here and it was not so strong as the last one, but since it was a surface earthquake it was much stronger at the region around the epicenter,'' he said.
The French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, sent two medical teams to the area from the northern city of Kunduz, U.N. spokeswoman Rebecca Richards said.
Another team carrying U.N. and other aid officials left Kabul by helicopter Friday to assess the situation, Richards said.
The quake was felt in Kabul but there were no reports of damage there. It also shook Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, and the Pakistani border city of Peshawar. No casualties or damage was reported in those cities.
Northern Afghanistan is at the heart of a desperately poor region already suffering the effects of years of drought and war.