Afghanistan landslide: Day of mourning declared

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Media captionDavid Loyn describes "tragic scenes" from an Afghan hillside, as landslide survivors fight over bread

The Afghan government has declared a day of national mourning for hundreds of people killed when a mudslide engulfed their village on Friday.

Badakhshan provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib told the BBC there was now no hope for more than 2,000 people believed buried in their homes.

Officials formally ended the search for survivors on Saturday.

Mechanical diggers had left Ab Barik village without being used because the site was inaccessible.

The BBC's David Loyn says it is unlikely that there will be any serious effort made to recover the bodies.

Metres of mud

At least 2,000 people were in their homes when a mountain collapsed and covered the area in mud and rocks.

A further 600 people are also missing after rushing to help with the rescue effort and being caught in a second landslide.

Rudimentary efforts by locals to dig into the soft mud with shovels were quickly abandoned.

A few hundred survivors have spent a second night out in the open, although blankets, tents and basic food aid have now arrived.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Locals who rushed to help with the rescue efforts were caught by a second landslide in the area
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of people have been left homeless after the landslide
Image copyright AP
Image caption The affected area is in one of Afghanistan's poorest regions

Correspondents say they have demanded that government officials resettle them elsewhere because they do not want to return to the village where so many lie buried.

"We cannot continue the search and rescue operation any more, as the houses are under metres of mud," Mr Adib said.

"We will offer prayers for the victims and make the area a mass grave."

'Absolutely devastating'

Heavy rain is believed to have triggered the two landslides, which hit on Friday morning.

Friday is a day of rest in Afghanistan, meaning whole families would have been at home at the time.

"The scale of this landslide is absolutely devastating, with an entire village practically wiped away," said Richard Danziger, from the International Organization for Migration, which is providing aid to the village.

"Hundreds of families have lost everything and are in immense need of assistance."

One survivor, Zia ul-Haq, told reporters: "My family, including my child and all my belongings are buried here."

Mountainous Badakhshan, which borders Tajikistan, China and Pakistan, is one of the poorest regions in Afghanistan.

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