A warning from the mountains
I was still awake when I felt the quake just befo
I was still awake when I felt the quake just before 1am local time. The tremor lasted about 9 seconds - the earthquake centred in the Hindu Kush mountains.
We now know the epicentre was in the province of Badakshan. If you look at a map that's the part at the top of Afghanistan that resembles a finger jutting out towards China. The province is very mountainous and extremely poor.
I have felt quakes before in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but it is always a very unnerving experience. Once I was in one of the very few tower blocks in Kabul, and held my breath as the building swayed.
The latest quake registered a 6.2 (apparently we don't call it the Richter scale anymore), and caused no known casualties, because of the remote location. However, one day Afghanistan will not be so lucky.
I have worries about the new buildings that have been built in the cities, particularly in Kabul, in recent years.
I remember chatting to the boss of a leading construction firm, who told me he would only carry out projects for the US Corps of Engineers. Working for other clients, he said, usually involved corruption, shortcuts, and shoddy workmanship.
Pointing at the skyline he said, "Many of these buildings will not be standing when we get the big one."