Afghanistan news: Devastating floods kill 315, aid agencies warn of widening havoc

Nearly 315 people were killed and over 1,600 injured in devastating flash floods that ripped through multiple provinces in Afghanistan, with authorities declaring a state of emergency. Described the devastating floods as a ‘major humanitarian emergency’, aid agencies have warned of widening havoc

Written By Deepak Upadhyay
First Published12 May 2024
Afghanistan floods: Municipality workers remove debris from the streets after flooding in Sheikh Jalal district, Baghlan province, Afghanistan on May 12, 2024
Afghanistan floods: Municipality workers remove debris from the streets after flooding in Sheikh Jalal district, Baghlan province, Afghanistan on May 12, 2024(Photo: Reuters)

Nearly 315 people were killed and more than 1,600 others injured in devastating flash floods that ripped through multiple provinces in Afghanistan on Friday, with authorities declaring a state of emergency. Described the devastating floods as a “major humanitarian emergency”, aid agencies have warned of widening havoc, news agency Reuters reported.

Afghan authorities have reported several people missing after heavy rains on Friday that sent roaring rivers of water and mud crashing through villages and across agricultural land in several provinces, causing damage to healthcare facilities and vital infrastructure besides thousands of homes and livestock wiped out.

Northern Baghlan province was one of the hardest hit, with over 300 people killed there alone and thousands of houses destroyed or damaged.

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A UN officer estimated that in Baghlan province alone, there were 311 fatalities, 2,011 houses destroyed and 2,800 houses damaged

"We have no food, no drinking water, no shelter, no blankets, nothing at all, floods have destroyed everything," Reuters quoted Muhammad Yahqoob, who has lost 13 members of his family, as saying.

The survivors were struggling to cope, he said, adding that "Out of 42 houses, only two or three remain, it has destroyed the entire valley."

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Abdul Mateen Qani, spokesman for the interior ministry, told AFP that 131 people had been killed in Baghlan, and the toll could rise.

“Many people are still missing,” he said.

Another 20 people were reported dead in northern Takhar province and two in neighbouring Badakhshan, he added.

Din Mohammad Hanif, Taliban's economy minister, urged the United Nations, humanitarian agencies and private business to provide support for those hit by the floods.

"Lives and livelihoods have been washed away," said Arshad Malik, the Afghanistan director for Save the Children. "The flash floods tore through villages, sweeping away homes and killing livestock."

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He estimated that 310,000 children lived in the worst-hit districts, adding, "Children have lost everything."

Meanwhile, the UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, “expresses his solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and extends his condolences to the families of the victims”, said his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, adding that the UN was working with local authorities on providing assistance.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, has called for immediate aid for flood victims in the country.

Taking to microblogging platform X (formerly known as Twitter), Bennett posted, "Recent floods in Afghanistan, including Baghlan, which claimed many lives, are a stark reminder of Afghanistan's vulnerability to the #climatecrisis & both immediate aid and long term planning by the Taliban & international actors are needed. Condolences to the families of victims."

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

(With agency inputs)

 

 

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