3/25/2002 Afghan Earthquake

Updated 3/28/2002

On the morning of March 25, 2002 at 6:18 GMT GMT a 6.1 magnitude earthquake was felt in Northern Afghanistan. Initial reports set the death toll at 1,800 but that has been revised downwards to about 1,000. The shallow focus of the quake led to more severe shaking at the surface and thus more damage than a deeper quake of the same magnitude. Buildings are not built to resist quakes, using stone and masonry, which are easily damaged by the frequent earthquakes. The area hit has suffered from drought, famine and war in the last few years. Whole villages are reported to have been leveled with thousands homeless. The initial quake has been followed by a series of severe aftershocks and related quakes that compounded the damage. The same general area has been hit by major earthquakes on a regular basis.

Aid was immediately rushed to the area. Roads to the affected areas are difficult under the best of circumstances and made worse by earthquake caused landslides. Aid has gotten through by helicopter, with the international peacekeeping force in Kabul helping out. Many aid workers are already in the country helping victims of famine and war. Relief efforts may be hampered by landmines and the fear of Al Quaeda attacks. A statement apparently from Al Quaeda blames the quake on God's Punishment for the war against the Taliban. This quake was casued by the movement of the Indian Plate as it moves northward into the Eurasian Plate. The quake had a shallow focus as the earth's crust adjusted to the strain caused by this collision. (See the Plate Tectonics page for more information on these processes.)

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