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Monday, December 11, 2023

Quake in Afghanistan leaves rubble, funerals and survivors scuffling with loss

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ZINDA JAN, Afghanistan — Nurullah crossed the border into Iran to earn cash for his household, like so many males from his village in western Afghanistan.

On Sunday, he stood on the aspect of the highway crying.

The 55-year-old was heading residence to bury his spouse, three kids and a grandchild killed a day earlier than, when an earthquake left a minimum of 2,000 individuals {dead} in Afghanistan’s Herat province.

On Wednesday, one other quake of the identical magnitude struck close by. It’s not but clear what additional harm it triggered to the already devastated area.

The hearses arrived, following Nurullah’s instructions to seek out the distant village, and mourners took the {dead} to the cemetery.

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Nurullah’s sister Maahzaad, 53, stored repeating her daughter’s identify.

She had a son, who she’d already misplaced to conflict and misfortune. Now she had misplaced her solely remaining youngster, a younger lady married three months earlier.

Nurullah — many Afghans use just one identify — acquired out of the automotive and other people came to visit to welcome and him with hugs.

Within the close by village of Naib Rafi, individuals picked up particles after coming from elsewhere to assist survivors and pull our bodies from the rubble.

The complete village of round 300 properties was destroyed, leaving nothing however mounds of filth. Nearly the entire 2,500 residents had been killed or damage, besides males who had been working exterior when the earthquake hit.

One man misplaced 12 members of his household. Whereas 11 our bodies had been pulled from the rubble, he couldn’t discover the physique of his 4-year-old daughter.

After looking for it for 2 days, he gave up and referred to as for assist.

Generally {dead} animals could possibly be seen among the many ruins. Within the twilight, a person with a blanket wrapped round him walked round crying and speaking to himself. Mullah Abdul Basir mentioned he was working exterior the village when the quake struck, killing 5 members of his household.

“Once I left residence,” he mentioned, “everybody was effective. My kids had been taking part in within the yard. Once I returned, There was nothing.”

Survivors had been largely those that had been working exterior when the quake struck: The {dead} had been largely kids, ladies and {old} individuals who couldn’t depart the home.

Individuals had been looking the particles when a cleric requested them to start out digging graves, and it took a day to dig sufficient with a front-end loader, a bulldozer and many individuals.

Individuals stood on the hilltops exterior the following village, burying tons of of our bodies.

A person who had misplaced his spouse and youngster embraced his spouse’s grave, crying silently. A boy sat within the crowd subsequent to his brother’s grave, mourning and reminiscing.

A person handed his personal youngster’s physique to his father and mentioned: “Right here, come bury your grandson.”

One other man who had misplaced his father cried and mentioned that he’d misplaced not solely his father, however his trainer and his information. A bit of woman begged for individuals to indicate her her youthful brother’s face earlier than burying him.

Because it acquired darkish exterior the village of Naib Rafi, our bodies had been unfold out within the plain, as individuals had been placing them within the graves. A whole lot of our bodies had been laid within the trenches.

The one sound was the noise of picks, shovels, and digging machines.


Ebrahim Noroozi is an AP photographer based mostly in Kabul who’s touring to quake-affected areas within the west.

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