2/11/99 Afghanistan Earthquake

Updated 2/18/99

An earthquake with a Magnitude of 5.9 Ms centered 36 miles to the west of Kabul caused widespread damage February 11, 1999 at 6:38 pm local time (1408 GMT). Official estimates put the death toll at over 50 with 30,000 homeless. Most of the damage came from the collapse of unreinforced earthen buildings. Relief agancies are encouraging building more earthquake resistant structures to reduce damage from future quakes.

Afghanistan is in an extremely active seismic region that runs in an east/west direction from the Mediterranian Sea through Central Asia. This area is being compressed as the Indian Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate. This collision is continuing to raise the Hindu Kush and Himalyan Mountain Ranges. To the West similar processes cause earthquakes in Iran as a result of the movement of the Arabian Plate into the Eurasian Plate. Still further West, the Alps are the result of the collision of the African and Eurasian Plates. (See the Plate Tectonics page for more information on these processes.)

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