At least 80 killed in flash flood in remote north of Afghanistan


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The Independent Online

More than 80 bodies were found on Sunday after a flash flood in Afghanistan’s remote north, as police and villagers scoured the rugged terrain for missing people.

The flood destroyed some 850 houses across several villages, damaging more than 1,000. Army helicopters assisted in relief efforts in the district, which is an eight- to nine-mile drive north of the provincial capital, Puli Khumri.

Local resident Sahib Nazar openly wept while recounting his own family's losses. 

"I have lost everything, my parents, my wife and five children," he said. "I have buried my mother, wife and three of my children, but still looking for my father and two other children's bodies." 

Nazar, a local police officer, said he received a phone call late Friday afternoon about the heavy rain and flooding. He said he left his sick son at a hospital and tried to come home, but couldn't as all roads were destroyed. 

By the time he reached home the next morning, there was nothing left. 

"All the village was gone," he said. 

Rahman said local authorities had received around 100 tents, several hundred blankets and some food, but that more supplies were needed. 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has appointed a high-ranking government commission to accelerate emergency aid to the affected villages and expressed his "deep condolences" to those who lost loved ones, the palace said in a statement Sunday. Abdullah Abdullah, the front runner in Afghanistan's June 14 presidential runoff election, also visited the area Sunday. 

Afghans living in the northern mountains have largely been spared from the country's decades of war, but are no strangers to natural disasters. 

Last month, a landslide triggered by heavy rain buried large sections of a remote village in the northeastern Badakhshan province bordering China, displacing some 700 families. Authorities have yet to provide an exact figure on the number of dead from the May 2 landslide, and estimates have ranged from 250 to 2,700. Officials said it was impossible to dig up all the bodies. 

A landslide in Baghlan province in 2012 killed 71 people. After days of digging unearthed only five bodies, authorities gave up on the recovery effort and turned the area into a memorial.