Flash floods kill more than 80 in north Afghanistan

Apr 25, 2014 12:00 AM

More than 80 people have been killed in flash floods in northern Afghanistan after two days of torrential rain, with scores more missing as helicopters searched for stranded villagers.

Local officials said 43 people died in Jowzjan province, 33 in Faryab province and six in Sar-e Pul province.

The floodwaters swept through villages and fields, engulfing thousands of homes and leaving many people seeking safety on the roofs of their mud-brick houses.

“We have been able to recover 43 bodies,” said Faqir Mohammad Jowzjani, the Jowzjan provincial police chief.

“Rescue helicopters have evacuated some 200 people, but many people are still trapped on roofs of their homes and some are also missing.”

The governor of Faryab, Mohammadullah Batash, said the death toll in the province, which borders Turkmenistan, was expected to rise.

“We have a confirmed toll of 33 people dead and 2,152 houses destroyed, several districts have been badly affected,” he said. “Rain is still continuing, which is hampering relief efforts.”

In Sar-e Pul, another northern province, the flooding killed at least six people with more than a dozen still missing, said governor Abdul Jabar Haqbeen.

Local officials reported shortages of drinking water, food and medicine, as the central government’s disaster management agency said it was assessing emergency needs.

The floodwaters destroyed farmland and also killed livestock across the remote region.

Flooding often occurs during the spring rainy season in northern Afghanistan, with flimsy mud houses offering little protection against rising water levels.

Two weeks ago, a landslide triggered by heavy rains and a small earthquake swept through two villages in the northern province of Takhar, killing four people and destroying around 100 houses.

In the last major flooding in Afghanistan, 40 people died in August in flash floods in eastern and southeastern provinces and some districts of the capital Kabul.

Neighbouring Pakistan suffered the worst floods in its history in 2010 when almost 1,800 people died and 21 million people were affected.

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