June 2012 Afghanistan earthquakes
|Date||11 June 2012|
|Magnitude||5.4, 5.7 Mw|
|Depth||15 km (9 mi)|
|Total damage||Hundreds of buildings destroyed|
|Casualties||75 killed, 13 injured|
On 11 June 2012, two earthquakes struck northern Afghanistan, causing a large landslide. The landslide buried the town of Sayi Hazara, trapping 71 people. After four days of digging, only five bodies were recovered and the search was called off. Overall, 75 people were killed and 13 others were injured.
The first earthquake struck at 9:32am local time (05:02 UTC), registering with a magnitude of 5.4 at 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) depth. A second quake struck 25 minutes later, measuring 5.7 magnitude. The epicenter of both quakes was approximately 160 kilometres (99 mi) southwest of Fayzabad. The quakes could be felt 170 kilometres (110 mi) away in the capital of Kabul.
Damage and rescue efforts
The quakes caused a large portion of a mountain in the Hindu Kush region to break off. An estimated, one hectare of land was covered in up to 100 metres (330 ft) of debris by the landslide in the Burka district of Baghlan province. The village of Sayi Hazara was hardest hit, buried under 30 to 100 meters of rock from the landslide.
According to Baghlan province governor Munshi Majeed, Sayi Hazara was completely destroyed by the landslide. He said there was little hope in finding any survivors in the 23 homes buried when a large portion of the nearby mountain broke free and rushed into the village. Only one home survived. Rescue workers worked throughout 11 June and into the night, but heard no human noises. Baghlan Provincial Council Member Haji Wakil told reporters, "The mountain was too big and strong... There is silence and silence alone." Majeed added, "This is a human tragedy. An entire village was lost... Two bulldozers are now there to recover the dead bodies but the amount of stones and debris that has hit the village makes the chances of survivors very slim." At the time of the earthquake, most adult males were away from the village working on farm land, so the victims are mostly women and children. As of 13 June, only two bodies had been recovered. "We have to dig and find the 69 other bodies," said province spokesperson Mahmood Haqmal. "It is not an easy task, but the government has promised that they... will stay until they find the last bodies."
On 14 June, the search was called off after only five bodies were located. The government said the area would be turned into a permanent memorial for the 66 people whose bodies were not recovered. Religious leaders recommended the area be renamed "Martyrs Hill" in honor of the dead. In total, more than 800 people helped with rescue efforts before the search was ended.
In addition to Sayi Hazara, four other areas, across three districts, of the Baghlan province reported damage. In Nahrin district, three people were killed, while in Guzargahi Nur, one person lost their life. The United Nations and the Afghan Red Crescent Society have sent humanitarian aid to the area.
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- CNN Wire Staff (12 June 2012). "Rockfall set off by quakes kills scores in northern Afghanistan". CNN. Retrieved 13 June 2012.