Afghanistan Earthquake of May 1998

The magnitude of the earthquake was 6.9 on the Richter scale.

This was the second large earthquake in the area in 1998 after another earthquake on February 4. Approximately 4,000-4,500 people died in the earthquake 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 due to the earthquake. More than 30 villages were destroyed and another 70 were severely damaged. Several thousand animals were killed and crops and infrastructure was destroyed in the earthquake.

The earthquake struck in the afternoon of the 30 May 1998, and four aftershocks followed. The earthquake timing probably reduced the number of casualties since many people were not in their frail houses at the time. Maps of the area were inaccurate, and many of the villages were not even on the map used by the rescue organisations.

As is often the case in such areas, where people live in very primitive conditions, up to 25 villages were completely destroyed, and some of them are unlikely to be rebuilt.

Up to 100 villages were affected, an estimated 5000 people were killed and 95 000 rendered homeless.

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hit northern Afghanistan killing up to 4,000 people and destroying 50 villages in Takhar province.

Limping back gradually from thedevastation of an earthquake earlier this year, Afghanistan has been crippled by yet another and stronger quake. On Saturday, 30 May at 11.00am an earthquake of 7.1 on the Richter scale struck approximately the same areas as previously hit. There has been total destruction of some villages which have been swept down mountain sides into the valleys.

The three districts hit are reported to be Rustaq, Chah Ab and Shahr-e-burg in Takhar and Badakhshan provinces. It is estimated that over 3,000 people have lost their lives and several hundred injured. This may increase as reports come in from the more remote areas.

Although weather conditions have improved considerably since the last earthquake in February, night temperatures fall to below freezing while daytime temperatures reach a scorching 40° C. Intermittent rain and impassable roads however make survey, rescue and relief efforts extremely difficult.