INTERNATIONAL

Aid rushed to Afghan landslide survivors

Aid groups on Sunday rushed to help survivors of a landslide in northern Afghanistan that entombed a village, killing hundreds of people and leaving 700 families homeless in the mountains. Much of Aab Bareek village in Badakhshan province was swallowed on Friday by a fast-moving tide of mud and rock that swept down the hillside and left almost no trace of 300 homes.

Government officials said the current death toll was at least 300 and warned it could rise by hundreds more, after initial reports suggested that as many as 2,500 people may have died.

“Around 1,000 families are thought to have been affected with some 300 houses totally destroyed,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

Tents, emergency food supplies, health services and support for children who lost parents were being organised after many survivors spent another night in the open.

Many villagers were at Friday prayers in two mosques when they were engulfed by the torrent of mud, and a second landslide hit people who came to help those in need.

Afghanistan held a national day of mourning on Sunday after President Hamid Karzai expressed his condolences to those who had lost loved ones. There was no official update on the death toll on Sunday, and the exact number of fatalities may never be known. Badakhshan is a mountainous northeastern province bordering Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.



Flooding and landslides often occur during the spring rainy season in northern Afghanistan, with flimsy mud houses offering little protection against rising water levels. — AFP



Much of the affected village in Badakhshan under rubble

No official update on the toll, actual number may never be known