Thursday 25 April 2013

A least 12 fatalities after a Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake in eastern Afghanistan.

A Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake at a depth of 62 km struck Afghanistan's Laghman Province slightly after 1.55 pm local time (slightly after 9.25 am GMT) on Wednesday 24 April 2013, according to the United States Geological Survey. The quake occurred 95 km east of Kabul and 24 km northwest of Jalalabad, and was felt across much of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India, where it was reportedly felt as far east as New Delhi. The worst damage appears to have occurred in Nangarhar and Konar Provinces, with the Afghan Red Crescent reporting twelve deaths in Nangarhar.

The location of the 24 April Earthquake. Google Maps.

Eastern Afghanistan lies close to the boundary between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, which runs through northern Afghanistan. The Indian Plate is moving northward relative to the Eurasian Plate, causing folding and uplift along this boundary, which has led to the formation of the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, the Himalayas and the other mountain ranges of Central Asia., and which makes the nations in this boundary zone prone to Earthquakes.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest nations on Earth and has suffered decades of war. This means that few (if any) buildings in the country are protected against the effects of Earthquakes, with many buildings in the area made of mud brick, a building material considered particularly hazardous during quakes, as the bricks have a tendency to liquify, trapping and suffocating people inside. The poor state of the transport network within the country and low numbers of medical staff mean that people injured in quakes are more likely to die as a result of their injuries than in more developed nations, adding to the death toll during such events.

Survivors searching through the rubble of a house following the 24 April quake. Reuters.