Afghanistan flash flood kills dozens in Baghlan province

Rescuers are desperately searching for survivors following flash floods in Afghanistan, as Mariko Oi reports

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Flash flooding in the remote northern Afghan province of Baghlan has killed at least 73 people and forced thousands to abandon their homes, police say.

The flooding has been deadliest in the Guzargah-e-Nur district of the province 140km (87 miles) north of the provincial capital Puli Khumri.

Police say the dead include women and children. About 200 people are missing.

Some 2,000 homes have been destroyed and roads washed away in what a local official said was a "huge disaster".

Northern Afghanistan has been hit by a series of floods in recent weeks, which have affected tens of thousands of people.

Flooding and landslides happen annually during the spring-summer rainy season in the north of the country, where flimsy mud houses offering scant shelter against rising water levels and volumes of mud.

'Huge disaster'

Baghlan provincial police chief Aminullah Amarkhel told the BBC that floods hit four villages in Guzargah-e-Nur, destroying roads and bridges.

Map

He said there was not enough dry land for helicopters to land.

"Right now, people need drinking water the most [as well as] medicine and food," Gen Amarkhel said.

"This is a huge disaster," he said. "Communities have lost everything, land, cattle and livelihoods."

The authorities in Guzargah-e-Nur - an especially inaccessible area of Baghlan - have appealed to the central government to provide emergency assistance.

Searching for survivors Desperate relatives searched for survivors amid ruins

"So far no one has come to help us. People are trying to find their missing family members," Guzargah-e-Nur police chief Fazel Rahman Rahman was quoted by the AP news agency as saying.

He said that his officers had been overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster.

The defence ministry says that two army helicopters have been deployed to provide assistance - correspondents say the landing difficulties mean it is not clear how they will now be used.

The Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority says that it has stockpiles of food and other supplies in Baghlan province, and has begun transporting them to the affected area.

Last month flood waters washed away a big section of the main north-south road in the Tashqorghan gorge, effectively cutting off the north of the country.

Further north-east in Badakhshan province, hundreds of people were killed in early May by a landslide which engulfed some 300 houses.

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