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Afghanistan: A country beleaguered by devasting earthquakes

This earthquake, which has shaken the country to its core, marks one of the deadliest tremors Afghanistan has witnessed in recent years.

 Vulnerability to earthquakes

Afghanistan, nestled amidst a ring of mountains, has a long and harrowing history of enduring strong earthquakes, particularly in the rugged Hindu Kush region along the border with Pakistan. In such regions, death tolls tend to rise significantly when remote areas are affected. The country's infrastructure has been greatly affected by decades of conflict, leaving it in a state of disrepair and making relief and rescue operations highly challenging.

A history of earthquakes in Afghanistan

A catastrophic earthquake in the Hindu Kush in 1991 claimed the lives of 848 individuals across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union. Less than a decade later in March 2002, twin earthquakes struck around the same region, claiming a total of 1,100 lives.

One of the most significant earthquakes in Afghanistan's recorded history occurred in the Hindu Kush again in 2015. With a magnitude of 7.5, it resulted in the deaths of 399 people, affecting not only Afghanistan but also neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan and India.

A massive magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Qayen, the border region of Afghanistan and Iran in 1997. This disaster resulted in the loss of over 1,500 lives in both countries and led to the destruction of more than 10,000 homes.

In the remote northeastern province of Takhar, a devastating earthquake took place in February 1998, resulting in the deaths of at least 2,300 people, with some estimates reaching as high as 4,000. Three months later, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in the same region claimed an additional 4,700 lives.

In June 2022, a powerful magnitude 6.1 earthquake wreaked havoc in the eastern province of Paktika, killing 1,036 people and causing widespread damage. This catastrophe led Afghanistan to seek international aid for recovery efforts. Just three months later, Afghanistan was hit by tremors in Kunar province, resulting in the loss of eight lives.

On March 21, 2023, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck the sparsely populated northeastern province of Badakhshan, specifically 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Jurm village. This earthquake resulted in the tragic loss of at least 13 lives in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.

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