As many as 120 people died after a powerful earthquake of 6.3 magnitude hit western Afghanistan Saturday leaving another 1,000 injured, local authorities said.

The powerful earthquake struck the city of Heart adjacent to the Iranian border leaving numerous residences and buildings damaged with people under the debris.

The earthquake followed several potent aftershocks as survivors recall how they were caught in amazement after experiencing shaking.

The United States Geological Survey said the epicentre was 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of the region’s largest city and was followed by five aftershocks with magnitudes of 5.5, 4.7, 6.3, 5.9 and 4.6.

“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.” A resident of Herat told AFP.

“I am not able to contact my family, network connections are disconnected. I am too worried and scared, it was horrifying,” he added.

Mosa Ashari, the province’s disaster management chief said: “So far more than 1,000 injured women, children, and elderly citizens have been included in our records, and about 120 people have lost their lives.”

According to earlier reports, the death toll was 15 however, the authorities had warned that the number could increase once the rescue operation commenced measuring the destruction by the natural disaster.

A video reported to be from the Afghan province showed numerous casualties linked up to portable intravenous drips being treated on the tarmac outside the main building.

Other moving pictures show scenes of devastation in Herat’s Injil district where the rubble of destroyed buildings blocked roads, hampering rescue efforts.

“The situation was very horrible, I have never experienced such a thing,” a student told AFP. He was the last to escape his classroom after the quakes began.

Crowds of residents and shopkeepers fled buildings in the city at around 11:00am as the quakes began, causing 25 injuries and a single fatality, according to a Taliban government spokesperson.

Afghanistan has been hit several times by earthquakes. In June last year, the province of Paktika was hit by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake which killed over 1,000 people and left tens of thousands without their residences.

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