More than 150 killed in Afghanistan flash floods, government says

Thousands of houses have been destroyed or damaged in the worst-hit northern province of Baghlan.

A man carries his belongings as he walks through a muddy street following a flash flood in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province [AFP]Published On 11 May 202411 May 2024

At least 153 people have been killed in flash floods in northern Afghanistan triggered by torrential rains, the Taliban’s Ministry of Interior Affairs has said.

On Saturday, ministry spokesman Abdul Mateen Qani put the number of injured at 138 people in three provinces, the Reuters news agency reported.

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Heavy rains on Friday led to flooding in several areas of the country, with fears of the death toll rising.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief spokesman for the Taliban government, said in a social media post on Saturday that “hundreds … have succumbed to these calamitous floods, while a substantial number have sustained injuries”.

Apart from Baghlan in the north, the provinces of Badakhshan in the northeast, central Ghor and western Herat were also heavily affected, he wrote on X, adding that “the extensive devastation” had resulted in “significant financial losses”.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) told the AFP news agency on Saturday that more than 200 people were killed and thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged in the worst-hit province of Baghlan alone.

The air force had started evacuating people and moved more than 100 injured people to military hospitals, the Taliban Ministry of Defense said on Saturday, without mentioning from which provinces.

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

Hedayatullah Hamdard, the head of Baghlan’s natural disaster management department, earlier told AFP that the toll “will probably increase”, adding that light rain had continued into the night in multiple districts of the province.

Residents were unprepared for the sudden rush of water set off by the heavy downpour in recent days, he added.

Emergency personnel were “searching for any possible victims under the mud and rubble, with the help of security forces from the national army and police”, Hamdard said.

Since mid-April, floods have killed about 100 people in 10 of Afghanistan’s provinces, with no region entirely spared, according to the authorities.

Farmlands have been submerged in a country where 80 percent of the more than 40 million people depend on agriculture to survive.

Mohammad Akram Akbari, the provincial director of natural disaster management in Badakhshan, said the mountainous province had seen “heavy financial losses in several areas … due to floods”.

He said casualties were feared in Tishkan district, where floodwaters had blocked a road and cut off access to an area where about 20,000 people lived.

Children survey their damaged homes after heavy flooding in Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan [Mehrab Ibrahimi/AP]

Source: News Agencies