May 1998 Afghanistan earthquake

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May 1998 Afghanistan earthquake
May 1998 Afghanistan earthquake is located in Afghanistan
May 1998 Afghanistan earthquake
Date May 30, 1998 (1998-05-30)
Origin time 06:22 UTC [1]
Magnitude 6.5 Mw [1]
Depth 30 km (19 mi) [1]
Epicenter 37°10′N 70°05′E / 37.17°N 70.09°E / 37.17; 70.09 [1]
Type Strike-slip [2]
Areas affected Afghanistan
Max. intensity VII (Very strong) [3]
Casualties 4,000–4,500 dead
10,001 injured

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.[4]


This was the second large earthquake in the area in 1998 after another earthquake on February 4.[4] Between 4,000–4,500 people died in Takhar and Badakhshan provinces.[4][5][6] Nearly 7,000 families were affected and estimated 16,000 houses were destroyed or damaged.[4] Approximately 45,000 people became homeless.[7] More than 30 villages were destroyed and another 70 were severely damaged.[8] Several thousand animals were killed and crops and infrastructure were destroyed.[9]

Like many other poorer developing nations, Afghanistan was ill-equipped to face this kind of natural disaster.[8] The country had no forms of protection or hazard micronization.[10] Houses were mainly built of mud brick with shallow foundation.[8] The villages were built on unstable slopes.[8] Many villages were entirely buried due to the landslides.[10] Aftershocks continued for a month.[4] It was also felt at Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, Andijan, Samarkand, Islamabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Dushanbe.[6]

Relief efforts[edit]

Several problems appeared during the relief operation. The affected region was remote and lacked any modern telecommunication.[8] The local culture prohibited male physicians to examine, or even speak to women.[4] There was no available accurate map of the affected region.[4] 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.[4] Relief efforts were also delayed because of blocked roads, bad weather and political turmoil in the region.[7]

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.[4] 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.[4] A worldwide appeal for helicopters was made to assist in the relief operations.[4]

The United Nations (UN) and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were involved in the relief efforts of the affected area.[4] 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.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d ISC (2015), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue (1900–2009), Version 2.0, International Seismological Centre 
  2. ^ USGS (September 4, 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2008_06.1, United States Geological Survey 
  3. ^ USGS (December 1, 2008), EXPO-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2007–12, United States Geological Survey 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Barr, Joe (1999), Disaster response with a difference – Afghanistan June 1998 (PDF), Australian Journal of Emergency Management 
  5. ^ Fathi, Nazila; O'Connor, Anahad (December 27, 2003). "Powerful Earthquake in Iran Kills Thousands]". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ a b Magnitude 6.6 Afghanistan-Tajikistan Border Region 1998 May 30 06:22:28 UTC National Earthquake Information Center
  7. ^ a b D. C. Funnell; Romola Parish (2001). Mountain Environments and Communities. Routledge. pp. 131–132. ISBN 0-415-18101-1. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Peter Webber; Neil Punnett (1998). Physical Geography and People. Nelson Thornes. p. 14. ISBN 0-7487-4303-0. 
  9. ^ Afghanistan Earthquake – ASAF82 ReliefWeb
  10. ^ a b Thomas Glade; Malcolm Anderson; Michael J. Crozier (2005). Landslide Hazard and Risk. John Wiley and Sons. p. 180. ISBN 0-471-48663-9. 

External links[edit]