Twin Afghanistan earthquakes kill at least 22

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TWO earthquakes rattled Afghanistan’s western Badghis province along the border with Turkmenistan yesterday afternoon, killing at least 22 people, a local official said.

There were fears the death toll could rise further as the first rescuers reached some of the remote villages struck by the temblors in what is one of Afghanistan’s most impoverished and underdeveloped regions.

Bas Mohammad Sarwari, chief of the province’s culture and information department, said scores of homes were destroyed in the quakes.

The US Geological Survey registered a magnitude 5.3 quake at 2pm local time and a magnitude 4.9 one two hours later.

They struck 41 kilometres east and 50 kilometres southeast of Qala-e-Naw, the provincial capital.

Sarwari says frightened residents were fleeing their homes for safety.The more powerful of the temblors hit Qadis district in the southern tip of the province, where the majority of the damage and deaths occurred, according to Mr Sarwari.Officials were still gathering information, but by nightfall only four villages had been heard from, he said.

The first 4.9 quake was centred in Muqur district, he said.”Tomorrow we have plans to send rescue teams as well as assistance for the affected families,” he said.Mr Sarwari said the tremors were felt across the province. Some homes in Qala-e-Naw, the provincial capital, suffered cracks but no major injuries or widespread damage, he added.

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