Afghanistan lies in a seismically active zone, and earthquakes pose a severe threat to many regions of the country, including densely populated urban centres.
The country is earthquake-prone because it is located in the mountainous Hindu Kush region, divided into the Central Highlands, which are part of the Himalayas, the Southwestern Plateau, and the country’s fertile Northern Plains.
Over the last decade, more than 7,000 people have died due to earthquakes in Afghanistan, with an average of 560 deaths per year. The Chaman, Hari Rud, Central Badakhshan, and Darvaz faults are expected to pose the greatest seismic danger of the potentially active faults.
These faults can produce 7 to 8 Magnitude earthquakes. Among these faults, the Chaman fault is the likelihood of solid shaking, impacting North-eastern Afghanistan.
Furthermore, Afghanistan’s northeastern region faces a high earthquake risk due to its borders with Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
Kabul is among the vulnerable and at high risk of severe earthquake impacts in the country due to its proximity to the Chaman fault and unplanned, nonstandard rapid urbanization and population growth in recent years.
Jalalabad is in the same seismic zone as Kabul and has historically suffered more large-scale earthquakes.
In addition, Khost city was struck by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in eastern Afghanistan last year, killing at least 920 people. Khost is another city close to the neighbouring country’s border, Pakistan. Over the past five years, the city has recorded nearly 50 quakes, according to the US Geological Survey.
The severe shaking of the earthquake in Afghanistan is estimated to have caused extensive infrastructure damage in Kabul and Jalalabad. Approximately 30 per cent of infrastructure will collapse if exposed to severe shaking, and 60 per cent will suffer damage.
The reason could be the building and construction, which has not seismically sound, as stated by the office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
On the other hand, earthquakes and natural hazards may wreak havoc in countries like Afghanistan, where infrastructure is poor, and people live in remote mountain areas, making difficult the emergency response to reach.