KABUL: More than 2,000 people are trapped after a landslide smashed into a village in a remote mountainous area of northeastern Afghanistan yesterday, a spokesman for the local governor said, prompting a massive search and rescue effort.
“There were more than 1,000 families living in that village. A total of 2,100 people - men, women and children - are trapped,” Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan governor said.
A senior police official earlier said up to 500 people were missing, believed dead.
Three bodies have been pulled out of the rubble in Argo district and at least 100 people are being treated for injuries, Colonel Abdul Qadeer Sayad, a deputy police chief of Badakhshan province, said.
The landslide, which follows a week of heavy rain at a time of melting spring snow, crushed hundreds of houses and damaged hundreds more, he said.
Villagers were attempting to recover their possessions after a smaller landslide crashed into the village.
No one was hurt in the first slide, officials said. The second deadly slide struck a few hours later.
President Hamid Karzai ordered Afghan officials to start emergency relief efforts immediately, a palace statement said.
Flooding often occurs during the spring rainy season in northern Afghanistan, with flimsy mud houses offering little protection against rising water levels.
The floodwaters swept through Afghan villages, engulfing thousands of homes and leaving many people in the village seeking safety on the roofs of their mud-brick houses.
The floodwaters destroyed farmland and also killed livestock across the remote region.
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. REUTERS