Afghanistan flash floods kill more than 300 as torrents of water and mud crash through villages | Afghanistan

More than 300 people died in flash floods that tore through multiple provinces Afghanistanthe United Nations World Food Program said, as authorities declared a state of emergency and rushed to rescue the injured.

Many people remain unaccounted for after Friday’s torrential rains sent rivers of water and mud crashing through villages and farmland in several provinces, causing what one aid group described as a “major humanitarian emergency.”

Survivors trudged through muddy, debris-strewn streets and damaged buildings on Saturday as authorities and non-governmental groups deployed rescue workers and aid, warning that some areas had been cut off by flooding.

North Baghlan province was one of the hardest hit, with more than 300 people killed and thousands of houses destroyed or damaged there alone, according to the World Food Programme.

“According to current information: there are 311 casualties, 2,011 houses destroyed and 2,800 houses damaged in Baghlan province,” said Rana Deraz, the UN agency’s communications officer in Afghanistan.

There were discrepancies between the death tolls provided by the government and aid agencies.

The International Organization for Migration reported to the United Nations on Saturday that there were 218 deaths in Baghlan. Abdul Mateen Khani, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told Agence France-Presse that 131 people had been killed in Baghlan, but the government’s death toll could rise.

“A lot of people are still missing,” he said.

Another 20 people were reported dead in the northern province of Tahar and two in neighboring Badakhshan, he added.

Flash floods kill dozens in northern Afghanistan – video

Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter/X: “Hundreds of our fellow citizens have succumbed to these disastrous floods.”

He added: “The flood caused extensive devastation to residential properties, resulting in significant financial losses.”

Torrential rains caused extensive damage in Baghlan, Tahar and Badakhshan, as well as in the western provinces of Ghor and Herat, officials said, in a poverty-stricken country heavily dependent on agriculture.

“My house and my whole life were swept away by the flood,” said Jan Mohammad Din Mohammad, a resident of the provincial capital of Baghlan, Pul-e-Qumri.

His family managed to flee to higher ground, but when the weather cleared and they returned home, “nothing was left, all my belongings and my house were destroyed,” he said.

“I don’t know where to take my family … I don’t know what to do.”

Emergency personnel rushed to rescue wounded and stranded Afghans. The air force said it had begun evacuation operations when skies cleared on Saturday, adding that more than 100 injured had been taken to hospital.

“With the declaration of a state of emergency in [affected] areas, the Ministry of National Defense has started distributing food, medicine and first aid to the affected people,” the statement said.

A vehicle loaded with food and water was seen in the Baghlan-i-Markazi district of Baghlan, along with others carrying the dead to be buried.

The bodies of Afghans who died in the floods are placed on the ground in Baghlan province, northern Afghanistan, on Saturday. Photo: Mehrab Ibrahimi/AP

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “expresses his solidarity with the people of Afghanistan [and] expresses its condolences to the families of the victims,” ​​said its spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that the UN was working with local authorities to provide assistance.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is also preparing a swift response, adding that the floods should act as an “alarm bell” reminding world leaders and donors not to forget a country ravaged by decades of conflict and beset by natural disasters.

“These latest floods have caused a serious humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, which is still suffering from a series of earthquakes” this year and severe flooding in March, IRC country director Salma Ben Aissa said.

Flash floods and other inundations have killed about 100 people in 10 provinces of Afghanistan since mid-April, authorities said.

Agricultural land is flooded in a country where 80% of more than 40 million people depend on agriculture for survival.

Afghanistan – which had a relatively dry winter, making it difficult for the soil to absorb rainfall – is highly vulnerable to climate change.

The nation, ravaged by four decades of war, is one of the poorest in the world and, according to scientists, one of the least prepared to face the effects of global warming.

The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, said on Twitter/X that the floods were a “stark reminder of Afghanistan’s vulnerability to the climate crisis”.

“Both immediate assistance and long-term planning by the Taliban and international actors are needed.”

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