Bhezad Kheil (Afghanistan) April 17 (AP): Two earthquakes shook eastern Afghanistan early today, burying sleeping villagers underneath mud-brick homes and killing at least 21 people.
The quakes hit four villages in the high mountains of the eastern province of Nangarhar, about 50km from the Pakistan border. Shafiqullah from the village of Bhezad Kheil said 21 people were buried in a cemetery, including two of his young neighbours. Nijad, 10, and Sima, 7, both died after the roof above their second-storey bedroom collapsed, raining down wood beams and chunks of mud, he said.
There were two shakes, said Shafiqullah, 30. The first shake was very strong, when everyone was asleep. The first shake destroyed everything. Then the crying and the shouting started. The quakes destroyed or damaged an estimated 100 houses in the four villages in Sherzad district, about 90km east of Kabul, said governors spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai.
The US Geological Survey said Nangarhar province was hit by two earthquakes a 5.5 magnitude quake at about 2am, and a 5.1 magnitude aftershock two hours later.
A villager in Sherzad, Shah Mohammad Khan, told The Associated Press that 40 people were killed and 60 wounded, but government officials had not confirmed those figures.
Afghanistans Hindu Kush mountain range is hit by dozens of minor earthquakes each year. Many Afghan homes are made of dried mud, so even moderate earthquakes can cause many deaths and major damage to infrastructure.