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Series of powerful earthquakes, including twin M6.3s, hit western Afghanistan in quick succession – more than 2 000 killed and 9 000 injured

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A strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.3 hit western Afghanistan at 06:41 UTC (10:11 local time) on October 7, 2023. The quake was followed by M5.5 at 06:49 UTC, M4.7 at 07:10 UTC, M6.3 at 07:12 UTC, M5.9 at 07:40 UTC, and M4.6 at 08:06 UTC — all at shallow depths between 7.7 and 14 km (4.8 – 8.7 miles).

  • More than 2 400 people were killed, as of October 11.
  • Previously, the Taliban have announced that more than 10 villages have been destroyed and at least 1 320 houses were damaged or destroyed.

The epicenters were located about 34 km (21 miles) NNE of Zindah Jān (population 10 104), 39 km (24 miles) NW of Herāt (population 574 300), and 39 km (24.3 miles) SSE of Qarah Bāgh (population 12 412), Herat, Afghanistan.

1.2 million people are living within 50 km (31 miles) of the epicenter and around 2 million within 100 km (62 miles).

GDACS has issued a Red alert for all earthquakes in the sequence thus far — high humanitarian impact is expected based on the magnitude and the affected population and their vulnerability.

According to the USGS PAGER, 1 000 people are estimated to have felt severe shaking (M6.3), 15 000 very strong, 920 000 strong, and 839 000 moderate.

The USGS issued an Orange alert for shaking-related fatalities. Significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread. Past events with this alert level have required a regional or national level response.

A Yellow alert was issued for economic losses. Some damage is possible. Estimated economic losses are less than 1% of GDP of Afghanistan.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and unreinforced brick with mud and timber post-construction.

Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

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Image credit: TW/SAM, Google
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Image credit: TW/SAM, Google
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Image credit: TW/SAM, Google

Estimated population exposure to earthquake shaking

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Selected cities exposed

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Regional seismicity

afghanistan earthquakes october 7 2023 regional seismicity

Featured image credit: TW/SAM, Google

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