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At least 114 Die as Powerful Quake Hits Afghan Villages

<i> From Reuters</i>

A powerful earthquake hit northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 114 people and destroying 36 villages in Takhar province, an aid worker said.

At least 16 villages were destroyed in Rostaq district and 20 more in Chah Ab district, Jacques Trembley, an aid worker in northern Afghanistan, said by telephone from the main northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif.

“One thousand houses have been destroyed completely,” he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 near the Afghan border with Tajikistan. It struck at 10:52 a.m. local time with an epicenter about 190 miles northeast of Kabul, said a spokeswoman for the agency.

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Takhar was the scene of a quake that killed thousands three months ago. The area is controlled by the northern opposition alliance fighting the Taliban government in Kabul.

He said the casualty figure could rise as news filters in from remote villages in the area, some of which will take two days to reach.

Trembley said the latest casualties will not be as high as in February because Saturday’s earthquake came during the day when most people were working outside. February’s tremor hit at night.

“We felt it here; it was strong,” said Trembley, who works for the Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) charity.

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A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross told reporters in Kabul that it had one plane on standby in neighboring Pakistan which could go to Takhar if needed.

The tremors, which were followed by powerful aftershocks, were felt in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar and in the Afghan capital, Kabul.


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