Hundreds killed in flash floods in northern Afghanistan

Taliban officials say death toll might rise as several are still missing

Vishwam Sankaran
Saturday 11 May 2024 14:00 BST
Related: Long queues in Dubai airport as floods cause travel chaos

At least 200 people have died and hundreds were injured due to flash floods following seasonal rains in northern Afghanistan, according to the United Nations.

The floods also damaged homes and properties across Afghanisthan’s Baghlan province, according to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration.

In Baghlan’s Jadid district alone, around 1,500 homes were either damaged or completely destroyed and “more than 100 people” are dead, according to AFP citing data from the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority.

A senior Taliban official also confirmed on Saturday that “hundreds” have been killed in the floods. However, he did not provide specific numbers.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said on social media: “Regrettably, hundreds of our fellow citizens have succumbed to these calamitous floods, while a substantial number have sustained injuries. Moreover, the deluge has wrought extensive devastation upon residential properties, resulting in significant financial losses.”

Mr Mujahid stated that Badakhshan, Baghlan, Ghor, and Herat provinces were hardest hit by the floods.

The Taliban’s interior ministry later reported that the death toll from destructive flash floods in northern Afghanistan reached 153 across three provinces.

Earlier reports put the death toll at around 50.

Rescue teams are helping bring food and other aid to the flood-affected areas in over five districts, including Kabul, said Abdullah Janan Saiq, the Taliban’s spokesperson for the state ministry for natural disaster management.

The Taliban said the death toll estimate “might rise as many people are missing”.

“All available resources expeditiously for the purpose of rescue operations, evacuation of the deceased, and medical treatment for the injured ... We also urge our fellow citizens to assist the affected victims of this natural disaster to the best of their abilities,” the spokesperson added.

The Taliban said residents were not prepared for the sudden rush of water as heavy seasonal rains caused flooding.

“The ministry of interior has sent teams and helicopters to the area, but due to a shortage of night vision lights in helicopters, the operation may not be successful,” Taliban interior ministry spokesperson, Abdul Mateen Qaniee said.

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The World Health Organisation’s Afghanistan office said in a statement late on Friday: “The impact has been profound, leading to loss of life and injuries, with many individuals still unaccounted for.”

The destructive flash floods follow heavy rains last month which killed at least 70 people and over 2,500 animals, also damaging agricultural land, Mr Saiq said.

The UN warned last year that Afghanistan is experiencing large “swings in extreme weather conditions”.

According to experts, Afghanistan, despite accounting for only 0.06 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, ranks sixth among countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Additional reporting by agencies

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