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50 Dead, 200 Injured When 5.5 Quake Hits Afghan Capital

February 13, 1999|From Reuters

KABUL, Afghanistan — Fifty people were killed and 200 injured when a strong earthquake shook Kabul and an area west of the city, Taliban radio reported Friday.

The radio said it had no reports from other areas.

The magnitude-5.5 quake caused several mud-walled dwellings in the capital to collapse. Some residents panicked, thinking they were being attacked by U.S. warplanes or missiles in Washington's search for Saudi militant Osama bin Laden, who is based in Afghanistan.

The radio said a medical team had visited three villages in the affected region and people were "in urgent need of help."

"We could not count how many houses were damaged," the radio broadcaster said. "I request [the United Nations] and Islamic governments to take part in helping the needy people."

A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said a team would visit the stricken area today to assess damage.

Two strong earthquakes in northeastern Afghanistan last year killed about 8,000 people.

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