Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT) Murghob, Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan: 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Situation Update No. 4 (as of 12 December 2015)



  • The number of damaged and destroyed houses continues to rise and stands at more than 1,327 as of 11 December.

  • Life-saving assistance has been provided by national and international partners to some affected communities in Gorno-Badakhshan. It does not cover all the needs.

  • Government and humanitarian partners agreed on priority sectors for joint response.

  • A Government-led assessment of damages to houses and infrastructure is ongoing. An inter-sector needs assessment is required to confirm the priority humanitarian needs.

  • Lack of access and unfavorable weather conditions hinder the identification of humanitarian caseloads, needs assessment and response interventions.

  • As of 11 December, the level of water in Sarez lake has increased with 46 cm compared to the level before the earthquake.

124,500 Population living in the five affected districts

2 People died

14 People injured

7,962 People displaced

Situation Overview

A 7.2 Magnitude earthquake occurred in Murghob district of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) at around 12.50 local time on 7 December 2015. At least 17 aftershocks of more than 4 Magnitude have been recorded near the epicenter in Murghob district as of 12 December. Two people have been trapped under rock-falls and consequently died, according to reports from the Committee of Emergency Situations. Another 14 have sustained injuries with two considered as severely injured.

According to figures from the Committee of Emergency Situations, the number of damaged and destroyed houses stands at 1,327 as of 11 December. In addition to displaced families whose houses were fully damaged, the Government noted that all families who sustained partial damage to their house are displaced due to fear of aftershocks. Estimates indicate that more than 7,962 people have been displaced. The Government is relocating displaced people to educational and social facilities in safer areas.

The level of water in Sarez lake has increased with 46 cm compared to the level before the earthquake according to the Committee of Emergency Situations. This is 4 centimeters lower than initial rise after the earthquake, which was caused by land slides and rock fall into the lake. Due to unfavorable weather conditions, aerial observation of the stability of Usoi dam has not yet been possible. However, as of 12 December, the weather has cleared up and the working group, consisting of relevant national agencies and FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, is on its way from Dushanbe to assess the dam. The Usoi dam monitoring system, which is managed by the Committee of Emergency Situations, reported as of 11 December that the dam is stable. However, further rise in the water level and aftershocks increase the risk of a potential outburst of the dam and subsequent flooding of Sarez lake.

The number of damaged houses and infrastructure continues to rise as damage assessments, led by a Government Commission, is underway. Shelter, heating, food, health and non-food items remain some of the priority needs of the displaced population in mountainous GBAO, where temperatures below -10°C will last up to mid-spring.

On 11 December, the Committee of Emergency Situations reported that 95 kilometers of the Rushan-Bartang road (between Jadud and Yapshorv villages) has been cleared from debris, which is approximately half of its full length. Many communities in the Bartang Valley still remain isolated and can only be reached by foot and helicopter - depending on weather conditions. Heavy machinery has been deployed by the Government and debris removal is ongoing. However, narrow roads impede the use of sophisticated machinery for this purpose, which further delays the debris removal process.

FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, an Aga Khan Development Network affiliated NGO, has been identified by the UN and international actors as the primary agency, together with operational UN, represented by UN World Food Programme and NGO partners present in GBAO, to coordinate local response with the Government. In a coordination meeting between international relief partners and the Government, an agreement was reached and UN and other operational partners in GBAO have joined the Government damage assessment process to assess the humanitarian needs and identify humanitarian caseloads.

As of 11 December late evening, at least 1,327 houses have been fully destroyed or partially damaged throughout Gorno-Badakhshan. In addition, other critical infrastructure, including roads, medical points and hydro-power stations and schools have been damaged. Below is a breakdown of information on damages at district and Jamoat levels made available by the Committee of Emergency Situations.