Afghanistan rocked by magnitude 5.9 earthquake

Afghanistan was hit by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake on Wednesday, resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 people and injuring hundreds more.

The earthquake, the deadliest in the country in decades, began rocking the eastern region of Afghanistan at about 1:24 a.m. local time on Wednesday (4:54 p.m. ET on Tuesday), according to the USGS. The quake was centered in Khōst, which is near the Afghan border with Pakistan. 

The earthquake was measured to be only about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) below the surface. The relatively shallow depth of the quake’s epicenter likely resulted in more localized damage in the districts of Giyan, Nika, Barmal and Zirok, according to the State Ministry for Disaster Management.

“The earthquake struck at a shallow depth in a region with buildings extremely vulnerable to earthquake shaking,” said the USGS in a statement. “The event occurred due to strike-slip faulting in the plate boundary zone between the Eurasia and India plates, along the western margin of the Tibetan plateau. The left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman fault is the fastest moving fault in the region and has caused large and destructive earthquakes in the past.”

At least 1,000 people are dead and over 1,500 are injured in the Gayan and Barmal districts alone, according to Paktika province’s information and culture department. As search and rescue missions continue, officials expect the death toll and injury numbers to increase.

“The timing of the earthquake (in the) dark of night … and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers of its epicenter led to higher casualties,” said Najibullah Sadid, an Afghan water resources management expert to CNN.

The USGS reported “Perceived shaking for the quake was violent.”




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