AFGHANISTAN, Kabul : Hundreds of people are feared dead after a powerful earthquake hit western Afghanistan, near the Iranian border.
Some estimates put the death toll much higher. The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated at least 12 villages near the city of Herat on Saturday.
There were powerful aftershocks. Survivors described their terror as buildings collapsed around them.
Rescue workers worked through the night trying to find survivors trapped beneath the rubble.
Thousands of people have been injured.
In a country with sorely inadequate medical facilities, hospitals are struggling to treat the injured. The UN and other organisations have begun to rush in emergency supplies.
The earthquake struck about 40km (25 miles) north-west of Herat at around 11:00 local time (06:30 GMT) on Saturday.
“We were in our offices and suddenly the building started shaking. Wall plaster started to fall down and the walls got cracks, some walls and parts of the building collapsed.” Herat resident Bashir Ahmad told AFP news agency.
“I am not able to contact my family… I am too worried and scared, it was horrifying,” he added.
The Taliban public health minister is visiting Herat to assess the scale of the impact.