MAZAR-I-SHARIF: Flash floods in northern Afghanistan after two days of torrential rain have killed around 100 people, officials said yesterday, with scores more missing as helicopters searched for stranded villagers.
Local officials said that 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,” Jowzjan provincial police chief Faqir Mohammad Jowzjani said.
“Rescue helicopters have evacuated some 200 people, but many people are still trapped on roofs of their homes and some are also missing.”
Faryab governor 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.
Afghanistan is set to release preliminary presidential election results yesterday, and Ashraf Ghani, one of the leading contenders, was quick to call for help for the flood victims.
“With great regret, we have been informed that heavy flooding has caused casualties and destroyed properties in some northern provinces,” said a statement from his campaign.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the people affected and demand urgent action by the government and relief organisations to help the affected people.”
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. AFP