Afghan earthquake kills 20 (Second Lead)

April 17th, 2009 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, April 17 (DPA) At least 20 people were killed Friday in back-to-back earthquakes in eastern Afghanistan.
The first quake, with a magnitude of 5.4, struck shortly after midnight in Nangarhar province, a statement from President Hamid Karzai said.

A few hours later, a magnitude-5.1 tremor struck in the same region in the Hindu Kush mountains, the statement said.

At least 50 people were injured by falling rubble, and authorities were searching for more victims, officials said.

The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority said the epicentre and the worst damage was in Shersad district, about 80 km east of Kabul.

Several villages saw the collapse of 200 to 300 houses, which are constructed primarily out of earth, said the authority’s director, Abdul Mateen Edrak.

The quake zone near the border with Pakistan had also seen heavy rains in the past several days, so many of the collapsed buildings were already damaged when the quakes struck, the authority said.

The Hindu Kush sees frequent earthquakes. A magnitude-6.4 quake in January caused damage along the Afghan-Pakistan border and into Kashmir.

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