Mazar-e-Sharif, June 12: Rescue teams were struggling today to free up to 70 villagers believed to be trapped after a double earthquake destroyed homes in northern Afghanistan, officials said.
At least three bodies have been recovered in Burka district, the worst hit area in the province of Baghlan in the Hindu Kush mountains, authorities said.
“We are on the ground. About 22 families estimated at 50 to 70 people are believed to be trapped under the rubble,” Mohammad Nasir Kohzad, the head of the local natural disaster response team, told AFP.
More rescue teams dispatched from the capital Kabul were on their way to the disaster-hit village of Mullah Jan, he said. So far six people had been rescued with injuries, he added.
Two shallow quakes hit the region within half an hour on Monday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The first, with a magnitude of 5.4, struck at 9:32 am (0502 GMT) at a depth of 15 kilometres with the epicentre around 160 kilometres southwest of the town of Faizabad.
A more powerful tremor, measured at 5.7 magnitude, hit around 25 minutes later in almost exactly the same place, USGS said.
Buildings were felt shaking slightly in Kabul, around 170 kilometres to the south, during both quakes.
Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are frequently hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range, which lies near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005 killed 74,000 people and displaced 3.5 million.