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Twin earthquakes in western Afghanistan kill at least 22 people

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KABUL, Afghanistan – Two earthquakes hit western Afghanistan’s Badghis province along the border with Turkmenistan Monday afternoon, killing at least 22 people, a local official said.

There were fears the death toll could rise as the first rescuers reached some remote earthquake-stricken villages in one of the poorest and most backward areas of Afghanistan.

Bas Muhammad Sarwari, head of the province’s Department of Culture and Information, said dozens of houses were destroyed in the earthquakes.

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The US Geological Survey recorded a 5.3-magnitude earthquake at 2 p.m. and a second with a magnitude of 4.9 at 4 p.m. local time. They struck 41 kilometers (25 miles) east and 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Castle Nau, the provincial capital.

Sarwari says frightened residents were fleeing their homes in search of safety.

The most powerful earthquakes hit the Kadis region at the southern tip of the province, where the majority of the damage and deaths occurred, according to Sarwari. Officials were still gathering information. By nightfall, he said, only four villages had heard of it. He said that the first 4.9 earthquake was centered in the Muqawar region.

“Tomorrow we plan to send rescue teams in addition to helping the affected families,” he said.

Sarwari said the quake was felt across the province. He added that some houses in Qal’at Nao, the provincial capital, had cracks but no major injuries or extensive damage.

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