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Following a 5.3-magnitude earthquake in Badghis province in western Afghanistan, dozens of people were killed and over 700 houses were damaged.

Western Afghanistan: An earthquake struck western Afghanistan, killing at least 26 people, according to an official. The victims died after their houses’ roofs fell on Monday in Qadis district, Badghis’ western province bordering Turkmenistan, according to the province’s spokesman, Baz Mohammad Sarwary.

“Unfortunately, our initial reports show that 22 people, including women and children, have been killed and four others injured,” said Baz Mohammad Sarwari, the director of Information and Culture of the Badghis provincial administration.

He said the first rescuers arrived in some of the affected districts during heavy rain, but cautioned that the number of casualties could rise because Badghis is a hilly province bordering Turkmenistan and one of Afghanistan’s poorest and underdeveloped provinces. Two hours after the first quake, a second quake with a magnitude of 4.9 struck the area.

Mullah Janan Saeqe, the head of the Ministry of State for Emergency Affairs’ Emergency Operations Centre, verified the death toll and stated more than 700 homes had been damaged. Residents in Muqr district in the province were also affected by the earthquake, but details, including casualties, were still unavailable, he said.

The shocks were felt across the province, according to Sarwary. He noted that while some residences in Qala-e-Naw, the province capital, had cracks, there were no severe injuries or widespread damage. The quake struck at a depth of 30 kilometers, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (18.64 miles).

Earthquakes frequently strike the region, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which is along the tectonic plate boundary between the Eurasian and Indian plates. In Afghanistan, earthquakes can cause substantial damage to poorly constructed homes and buildings.

A strong 7.5-magnitude earthquake centered in the Himalayan range blasted across South Asia in 2015, killing over 280 people, the majority of whom were in Pakistan. Twelve young Afghan girls were crushed to death in a stampede as they attempted to exit their swaying school building in that calamity.

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