- By Rachel Russell
- BBC News
At least 15 people have been killed and 78 injured in an earthquake in western Afghanistan, officials said.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck at 11:00 local time (06:30 GMT), about 40 km from the western city of Herat, near the border with Iran.
Many buildings were damaged and people were trapped in the rubble, Afghan officials said.
The initial quake was followed by at least three more powerful aftershocks.
“We were in our office and suddenly the building shook. Wall plasters started falling down, walls were cracked, some walls and parts of the building collapsed.” Herat resident Bashir Ahmed told AFP news agency.
“I can’t contact my family, network connections are down. I am very worried and scared, it was terrifying,” she added.
A health official said more than 70 people were injured and were being treated at the city’s main hospital.
“The situation is terrible, I’ve never experienced anything like it,” student Idris Arsala, who safely evacuated his classroom after the quake struck, told AFP.
Herat is located 120 km east of the border with Iran and is considered the cultural capital of Afghanistan. According to 2019 World Bank data, the province is home to an estimated 1.9 million people.
The country is prone to frequent earthquakes – especially near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates in the Hindu Kush mountain range.
In June last year, a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck Paktika province, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.