Afghanistan earthquakes

Afghanistan earthquakes

Devastating earthquakes

On 7 October a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck western Afghanistan, second 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck on 12 October. A third earthquake of the same magnitude struck Herat on 15 October. 

People affected

Health authorities confirmed thousands of deaths, and hundreds of wounded people have been received at Herat Regional Hospital.

The current situation

The earthquakes that hit Herat in western Afghanistan have had widespread and devastating effects. 

On Saturday 7 October, the western region of Afghanistan around Herat experienced a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, followed by three subsequent aftershocks measuring 5.5, 4.7, and 5.9 on the Richter scale. 

On Wednesday 11 October, a second 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the remote districts outside Herat city, followed by several aftershocks. 

On Sunday 15 October a third 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Herat. The population is on edge and even before this earthquake many people were sleeping outside, in their cars, or in tents either because their homes had been destroyed or they did not want to stay inside.

According to data from the Ministry of Public Health and Herat Regional Hospital, there have been thousands of reported deaths and injuries in Herat Province so far. Most of the people requiring treatment are women and children, likely because they were the ones at home when the earthquake hit mid-morning.

The National Disaster Management Authority has confirmed 12 villages have been destroyed in Zindajan and Ghoryam districts. 

The Ministry of Public Health has mobilised medical staff from other provinces to support Herat, and a number of national and international NGOs are also working in the area. Mental health has been identified as one of the major unaddressed needs.  

People affected in Herat Regional Hospital

MSF supports the Herat Regional Hospital, which has received hundreds of injured people following the earthquake. Afghanistan 2023 © MSF

How is MSF responding

MSF has supported the Herat Regional Hospital for many years, managing the facility’s paediatric section, which includes triage, the emergency room, inpatient and outpatient therapeutic feeding centres, a paediatric intensive care unit, and an intermediate care unit. Now teams are focusing on the influx of wounded women and children.

Following the second earthquake on 12 October, Herat Regional Hospital received 117 injured patients in the emergency room within the first couple hours. To prepare for the influx of patients, MSF teams set up four additional tents. 

After the third earthquake on 15 October MSF teams in the Herat Regional Hospital received more than 100 injured. MSF teams are safe and our paediatric activities are continuing. 

MSF has set up a total of 10 tents for the earthquakes response, some of the tents are joined up to make bigger halls in different parts of the hospital compound.

Teams are working to expand bed capacity and support the surgical team while mobilising supplies from other areas and traveling to the hardest-hit locations, where they are seeing whole villages destroyed. 

Many [patients in the regional hospital] are in the tents set up by MSF because even though they could be discharged they don’t have homes to return to.  

Yahya Kalilah
Head of program in Afghanistan

“MSF teams in different parts of Afghanistan have sent additional supplies, and the Herat team donated mass casualty medical supplies to the regional hospital, enough to treat 400 people,” said Yahya Kalilah, head of program in Afghanistan. “A team made up of operational, medical and logistical staff left to assess some of the most-affected areas outside of the city and to provide medical first-aid.” 

“As rescue efforts and search for wounded continue in affected areas, we are monitoring the situation and will adapt our response as needed,” said Lisa Macheiner, MSF project coordinator in Herat. 

MSF teams continue to adapt our response and address the most immediate needs at the hospital and in some of the most-affected areas outside of the city.

MSF presence in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s healthcare system has collapsed after years of instability and devastating conflict. MSF teams have witnessed an alarming increase on malnutrition in the region.

MSF first began work in Afghanistan in 1980 and currently runs seven projects in seven provinces, Lashkar Gah, Kunduz, Kabul, Khost, Kandahar, Herat and Bamyan, with a particular focus on delivering specialised healthcare.

In 2022, throughout Afghanistan, MSF teams provided  more than 130,000 outpatient consultations, 330,700 emergency room admissions, 13,700 surgeries, and 42,800 deliveries. Around 9,000 children attended  outpatient therapeutic feeding centres.

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