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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Afghan quake rescue operation declared over
by Staff Writers
Kabul (AFP) June 16, 2012


Afghan rescuers walk past the rubble of a collapsed house following an earthquake in a village at Burka district, the worst-hit area in the province of Baghlan, north of Kabul, on June 12, 2012. More than 70 people, mostly women and children, are feared dead after a landslide triggered by a double earthquake engulfed their Afghan village, officials said on June 12. Two shallow quakes less than half an hour apart shook the mountainous Hindu Kush region on June 11, starting a slide of earth and rock that smashed into a remote village, burying mudbrick houses to a depth of up to 100 metres (300 feet). Photo courtesy AFP.

Afghan rescue teams have ended operations to recover the bodies of dozens of people killed in a landslide that followed earthquakes in the north of the country last week, an official said Saturday.

Two shallow tremors less than half an hour apart on Monday unleashed a deluge of rock and earth that smashed into the remote village of Mullah Jan in Baghlan province, burying as many as 71 people according to villagers.

The director of Afghanistan's Natural Disaster Management Authority, Dayem Kakar said emergency teams ended the search after local elders and religious leaders recommended leaving the bodies buried under the slope and naming it the "hill of martyrs".

"We wanted to continue the search for the bodies as the president had ordered, but after a number of mangled bodies and bodies with limbs missing were recovered, the families of the victims and religious leaders strongly urged us to stop," he told a press conference.

Only five bodies had been recovered, he added.

Authorities and aid agencies have provided temporary camps and relief aid, he said, with the government promising to resettle homeless survivors of the quakes.

The first tremor, with a magnitude of 5.4, struck at 9:32 am (0502 GMT) at a depth of 15 kilometres (10 miles) with the epicentre around 160 kilometres south-west of the town of Faizabad.

A more powerful quake, measured at 5.7 magnitude, hit around 25 minutes later in almost exactly the same place, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are frequently hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range, which lies near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005 killed 74,000 people and displaced 3.5 million.

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