Desperate people dig out dead and injured from Afghanistan earthquakes that killed at least 2,000

An Afghan sits by the rubble of his house on Sunday in Herat province, in western Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

ISLAMABAD — Men dug through rubble with their bare hands and shovels in western Afghanistan Sunday in desperate attempts to pull victims from the wreckage left by powerful earthquakes that killed at least 2,000 people.

Entire villages were flattened, bodies were trapped under collapsed houses and locals waited for help without even shovels to dig people out.

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Living and dead, victims were trapped under rubble, their faces grey with dust. A government spokesman said Sunday that hundreds were still trapped, more than 1,000 hurt and more than 1,300 homes destroyed.

“Most people were shocked … some couldn’t even talk. But there were others who couldn’t stop crying and shouting,” photographer Omid Haqjoo, who visited four villages Sunday, told The Associated Press by phone from Afghanistan’s fourth largest city, Herat.

Saturday’s magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit a densely populated area near Herat. It was followed by strong aftershocks.

A Taliban government spokesman on Sunday provided the toll that, if confirmed, would make it one of the deadliest earthquakes to strike the country in two decades.

An earthquake that hit eastern Afghanistan in June 2022wiped out stone and mud-brick homes and killed at least 1,000 people.

People in Herat freed a baby girl from a collapsed building after she was buried up to her neck in debris. A hand cradled the baby’s torso as rescuers eased the child out of the ground. Rescuers said it was the baby’s mother. It was not clear if the mother survived. The video was shared online and verified by The Associated Press.

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