Rescuers struggle to reach Afghanistan flood-hit areas

General |Author: AFP | May 12, 2024, Sunday @ 19:19| 1658 views

Afghan men shovel mud from a house following flash floods after heavy rainfall at a village in Baghlan-e-Markazi district of Baghlan province on May 11, 2024. More than 300 people were killed in flash flooding in Afghanistan's northern province of Baghlan, the World Food Programme said on May 11. (Photo by Atif Aryan / AFP)

Emergency aid and rescue teams struggled on Sunday to reach areas of northern Afghanistan hardest hit by flash floods that killed hundreds, AFP journalists saw.

Heavy rains caused flash flooding in several provinces in Afghanistan on Friday.

Northern Baghlan was the worst impacted, with efforts to deliver aid hampered by destruction to roads and bridges wrought when the floods ripped through the province.

In Sheikh Jalal, about a two-hour drive from Burka, one of the most devastated areas, AFP journalists saw aid trucks full of food, military vehicles, rescue workers and local residents stuck where roads had been completely washed out.

The military was using heavy machinery to pave the way, as well as to free aid trucks stuck in the mud.

Mohammad Ali Aryanfar, part of a team from the Turkish Hak Humanitarian Relief Association trying to deliver food to Burka, said they had been on the road since early morning Sunday but were blocked in Sheikh Jalal.

"Our compatriots there (in Burka) need assistance and we pray that the road opens and we reach the area," he told AFP.

"People's houses have been destroyed and they don't have anything, they don't have shelters," he added.

The United Nations World Food Programme shared a photo on social media site X of WFP-stamped bags of flour strapped to donkeys' backs, saying it had to "resort to every alternative to get food to the survivors who lost everything" in Baghlan, as most of the affected areas were "inaccessible by trucks".

The Taliban government refugees ministry said on Sunday that 315 people had been killed and more than 1,600 people were injured in the flooding in Baghlan.

More than 2,600 homes have been damaged or destroyed and 1,000 cattle killed, it added.

Farmland has also been swamped in the poverty-wracked nation where 80 percent of its more than 40 million people depend on agriculture to survive.

WFP confirmed a toll of more than 300 dead in Baghlan to AFP on Saturday.

Taliban authorities and non-governmental groups warned that the death toll could rise.

About 600,000 people live in the five most severely impacted districts in Baghlan, according to NGO Save the Children.

So far this year, "nearly 13,000 people in Afghanistan have been impacted by disasters caused by extreme weather, including floods and landslides", it said in a statement.

The country, ravaged by four decades of war, is one of the world's poorest and, according to scientists, one of the worst prepared to face the consequences of global warming.

© Agence France-Presse


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