2,100 dead in Afghanistan mudslide

Remote mountain village buried beneath 50 meters of mud

May 7, 2014

A week of heavy rain and snow melt triggered landslides in a remote mountain village in Afghanistan May 2nd, leaving at least 2,100 people presumed dead, buried under a mass of rocks and dirt.

The collapse of a mountainside after heavy rains destroyed the village of Aab Bareek, with many victims thought to be buried beneath as much as 50 meters of mud that cascaded down into a ravine.

According to a Boston.com report, the site of the slides has become a mass grave. After the first landslide, residents of a nearby village rushed in to help look for survivors, but a second landslide occurred, burying the rescuers.

With the search for survivors ending, official have a new challenge: providing relief for the hundreds displaced by the slide. Some 700 families have left their homes in the village of Abi Barik after the hill collapsed twice on the village in northeastern Badskhshan province near the borders with China and Tajikistan. Nearly 300 homes were buried, about a third of all houses there, Badakhshan province Gov. Shah Waliulah Adeeb said.

The mudslide has stretched local disaster management preparation to breaking point. “Based on our capabilities, we had a plan in place,” Sayed Aziz Qazi, head of International relations at the Afghanistan Natural Disaster management Authority said. “But the disaster is so massive and it is such a huge loss…

“At this point we are working on preventing further damage. We are talking with local authorities, trying to spread awareness about what needs to be done.”

The government has started to distribute water, tents, blankets and food, Dahim Kakar, an Afghan humanitarian assistance official, told Central Asia Online.

Vice presidents Mohammad Younus Oanouni and Mohammad Karim Khalili and several cabinet ministers have visited the site, bringing aid and offering their sympathies.

The search for survivors was called off on May 3rd, with international military forces, UN agencies, government bodies and NGOs focusing on the distribution of clean water, food, shelter and medicines.

Attention is also turning to the impact of trauma on survivors. “I am seeing around 100 people a day,” said Mohammad Shahim, a doctor with the Afghan Red Crescent Society. “We are mainly dealing with physical injuries caused by the landslide and mental problems such a shock, stress and depression.”

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