Floods in north, east Afghanistan leave at least 100 dead

AP , Wednesday 26 Aug 2020

Villagers and rescuers search for bodies among households' debris as others watch after a flash flood affected the area at Sayrah-e-Hopiyan in Charikar, Parwan province, on August 26, 2020. AFP

Heavy flooding has killed at least 100 people and injured scores of others as heavy seasonal rains drenched northern and eastern Afghanistan, officials said Wednesday.

Annual heavy rains, compounded by mudslides, often threaten remote areas of Afghanistan, where infrastructure is poor. Summer often brings heavy rainfall in northern and eastern parts of the country, leading to floods that leave hundreds dead every year.

State minister for disaster management Ghulam Bahawudin Jilani said that in northern Parwan province, water inundated the central city of Charikar, where the health ministry said the local hospital was partially destroyed and many of the injured were being transferred to the capital, Kabul.

The provincial spokeswoman, Wahida Shahkar, said the number of casualties may rise as people and rescue teams were still working to locate people buried under destroyed houses.

The head of the provincial hospital, Abdul Qasim Sangin, said several children were among the dead and some of the injured are in critical condition.

Shahkar said the flooding started in the central part of the province overnight, following heavy rains and destroying many homes. She called on the government to deliver aid and provide immediate support for workers digging through mud to reach those who were trapped.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a statement ordered aid be delivered to Parwan and other provinces while expressing his condolences to the victims' families.

Ahmad Tameem Azimi, spokesman of the Disaster Management Ministry, said flooding blocked highways to eastern and northern provinces. ``Along with rescuing people we are working to open the highways back to traffic,'' he said.

Azimi said at least 300 houses were destroyed in Parwan and over 1,000 people were displaced. He said ground and air support sent to help those trapped by the flooding had reached the provinces.

The ministry warned residents of possible flooding in the region with a social media alert late Tuesday, he added.

The flooding waters and rushing mud in the mountainous Parwan province carried thousands of large rocks that caused major injuries and destroyed entire homes, burying people under the rubble. Several excavators had reached the area and were digging for those stuck beneath the rubble.

``Nobody could run,`` said Shah Arian, 22 one of the victims. He said it all started around midnight, when people were asleep.

``Fifteen people from our two neighborhoods died,'' he said, appealing for government help. ``Everything I had is under the mud.''

Azimi, the spokesman, said hundred of acres of agricultural land have been destroyed, with the heavy rain wiping out all the corps in eastern Nuristan province. Houses and roads were destroyed in northern Kapisa, Panjshir and eastern Paktia provinces, Azimi said.

In eastern Maidan Wardak province two people died and five were injured when flooding destroyed several houses, he added.

The office of the Nangarhar governor said in a statement that two members of a family died and four others were injured Wednesday morning when the wall of their house collapsed in flooding.

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