Published On: Sat, May 3rd, 2014

Afghanistan Landslide: Rescuers Search For Missing

Rescuers in Afghanistan are sifting through mud for a second day after a landslide that is feared to have buried at least 2,000 people.The UN said more than 350 bodies had been recovered in the remote north-east Afghan province of Badakhshan.

Afghanistan landslide

Hundreds of homes were buried on Friday when a section of a mountain collapsed following torrential rain.

The BBC’s David Loyn in Kabul says rescue efforts are rudimentary and survivors are unlikely to be found.

Local police handed out bread and water to the thousands of people who spent the night without shelter.

Much of north and east Afghanistan has been hit by heavy rain in recent days.

“The number of deceased has increased to 350 and significant displacement is expected,” the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

“The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is helping local authorities to rescue those still trapped.”

Tonnes of mud

About 1,000 houses were affected – 300 of them buried immediately after the side of a mountain gave way.

The landslide hit on Friday morning, a day of rest in Afghanistan, meaning people were at home and whole families were lost under tonnes of mud.

Badakhshan police commander Fazludeen Ayaz told the BBC that all of the village of Hargu – home to 215 families – was covered by earth and rock.

He said it was unlikely that any survivors would be found under the rubble and that even if there was rescue equipment available in the remote area, it would be difficult to dig people out.

Remote region

The BBC’s Qurbon Ali Hamzi in Badakhshan says continuing rain has raised fears of further landslides.

Badakhshan is in the most remote and mountainous part of the country, bordering Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.

The governor of Badakhshan province, Shah Waliullah Adeeb, told AP news agency that rescue crews did not have enough equipment and appealed for shovels.

“It’s physically impossible right now,” Mr Adeeb said. “We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.”

He said that residents of nearby villages had been evacuated amid concerns about further landslides.

Another, smaller landslide was reported in Badakhshan on Thursday.