May 1998 Afghanistan earthquake
|Date||May 30, 1998|
|Origin time||06:22 UTC |
|Magnitude||6.5 Mw |
|Depth||30 km (19 mi) |
|Max. intensity||VII (Very strong) |
The May 1998 Afghanistan earthquake occurred at 06:22 UTC in northern Afghanistan in the Takhar Province with a moment magnitude of 6.5 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of VII (Very strong). The affected area was controlled by the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan.
This was the second large earthquake in the area in 1998 after another earthquake on February 4. Between 4,000–4,500 people died in Takhar and Badakhshan provinces. Nearly 7,000 families were affected and estimated 16,000 houses were destroyed or damaged. Approximately 45,000 people became homeless. More than 30 villages were destroyed and another 70 were severely damaged. Several thousand animals were killed and crops and infrastructure were destroyed.
Like many other poorer developing nations, Afghanistan was ill-equipped to face this kind of natural disaster. The country had no forms of protection or hazard micronization. Houses were mainly built of mud brick with shallow foundation. The villages were built on unstable slopes. Many villages were entirely buried due to the landslides. Aftershocks continued for a month. It was also felt at Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, Andijan, Samarkand, Islamabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Dushanbe.
Several problems appeared during the relief operation. The affected region was remote and lacked any modern telecommunication. The local culture prohibited male physicians to examine, or even speak to women. There was no available accurate map of the affected region. However this problem was solved as the pilots of the first Tajikistan helicopters served with the Soviet Armed Forces in the area during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and knew many of the villages. Relief efforts were also delayed because of blocked roads, bad weather and political turmoil in the region.
Relief effort by several agencies in Afghanistan was administered from neighboring Pakistan as many organizations learned from previous bitter experience not to base too many assets in Kabul or in any other city in Afghanistan. A sub-base for the relief efforts was established in Rostaq in the Takhar Province near Afghanistan-Tajikistan border, which in spite of lacking airfield had open spaces for helicopter operations and a road link to Tajikistan. A worldwide appeal for helicopters was made to assist in the relief operations.
The United Nations (UN) and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were involved in the relief efforts of the affected area. A joint relief operation was mounted by the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and a number of national and international NGOs.
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