Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rescuers search for survivors after earthquakes

Rescuers search for survivors after earthquakes

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Local residents stand near a damaged house at Qadis district in Afghanistan’s western Badghis province after an earthquake hit the region on Tuesday. AFP

Rescuers search for survivors after earthquakes

Survivors of twin earthquakes in Afghanistan that killed at least 22 people said on January 18 that they had to spend the night without shelter in plummeting temperatures, after hundreds of buildings were damaged in the tremor.

Rescuers meanwhile searched for more survivors of the quakes on the afternoon of January 17 that jolted Qadis district in the western Badghis province, a rural area not easily accessible by road.

The US Geological Survey said two earthquakes hours apart of magnitude 4.9 and 5.3 rocked the district.

“Yesterday’s earthquake was a very horrifying incident. We had never seen such a thing,” Ahmad Shah, whose house in Qadis was damaged, said.

“Because of the cracked walls and roofs of our houses we stayed out all night in this cold weather. Nobody came to help and the people had to dig out those who were buried.”

Abdul Jabar, another survivor from Qadis, said many residents preferred to stay in the open fearing more tremors.

“We were scared and did not want to stay at home,” he said, adding that some Afghan and international rescue teams arrived on January 18.

“So far there has not been much support from anyone. They are just assessing the situation.”

Qadis governor Saleh Purdel said the survivors might have to stay in tents for another week.

Many fear that further rain in the area could make houses even more vulnerable.

Early on January 18 Badghis provincial spokesman Baz Mohammad Sarwary said in a video message that the quake had caused “massive” damage to houses, with up to 1,000 buildings damaged.

Sarwary and Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said 22 people were killed and four were injured.

Afghanistan is already in the grip of a humanitarian disaster, worsened by the Taliban takeover of the country in August when Western countries froze international aid and access to assets held abroad.

Images circulating on social media showed residents, including children, searching through the rubble of collapsed homes.

Government officials said rescue workers were helping search for survivors and transferring the injured to local hospitals.

Mujahid said that all government agencies had been instructed to provide food, medical aid and shelter to those affected.

“We also call on international aid agencies and humanitarian agencies to assist the victims of the disaster,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The epicentre of the quake was near the city of Qala-i-Naw, the capital of Badghis, less than 100km from the Turkmenistan border, according to the US Geological Survey.

The UN has said it needs $5 billion in 2022 to avert the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan.

A devastating drought has compounded the crisis, with earthquake-hit Qadis one of the worst affected areas.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

Even weak earthquakes can cause significant damage to poorly built homes and buildings in the impoverished country.

In 2015, more than 380 people were killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan when a powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake ripped across the two countries, with the bulk of the deaths in Pakistan.

In that disaster, 12 young Afghan girls were crushed to death in a stampede as they tried to flee their shaking school building.


  • 12th Cambodia int’l film festival to see return of Hollywood star

    Phnom Penh is set to come alive with the magic of cinema as the highly anticipated 12th Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) takes centre stage. Boasting an impressive line-up of 188 films from 23 countries, including captivating shorts, feature films, documentaries and animation, the festival promises an

  • Bareknuckle champion wants Kun Khmer fighter

    Dave Leduc, who is the current openweight Lethwei boxing champion in Myanmar, has announced that he will travel to Cambodia this year to challenge SEA Games gold medallist Prum Samnang any time that is convenient, after their planned match later this month in Slovakia was

  • Struggling Battambang artist dreams of staging full-scale gallery exhibition

    Leav Kimchhoth, a 55-year-old artist from Battambang province, is a familiar face to locals and tourists alike on the streets of the riverside in Phnom Penh. The one-armed painter and illustrator often hawks his work near the night market on weekends and public holidays. He

  • Fresh Covid warnings as Thai hospital fills

    A senior health official reminds the public to remain vigilant, as neighbouring countries experience an increase in Covid-19 cases, with the latest surge appearing to be a result of the Omicron XBB.1.5 sub-variant. Or Vandine, secretary of state and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health,

  • 1.4 billion dollar Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway due in four years

    The Government, through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, has officially signed a public-private partnership agreement with a private company for the construction of a Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project that will connect the capital to Svay Rieng province. The budget for the project is

  • New Law on Taxation comes into effect

    Cambodia has enacted the eagerly-awaited new Law on Taxation, which aims to improve the national tax regime’s compliance with present and future international standards and economic conditions; encourage accountability, effectiveness and transparency in the collection process; and promote investment in the Kingdom. King Norodom