KUNDUZ, Afghanistan: Rescuers scrambled Sunday to deliver food and medical supplies to Afghan families marooned on mountaintops after flash floods killed 80 people in a remote northern district, washing away hundreds of homes and forcing thousands to flee.
The death toll was expected to rise, with scores of people said to be missing in the mountainous district of Baghlan province after torrential rains unleashed the floods Friday.
The floods come a month after a landslide triggered by heavy rains buried a village and killed 300 people in a nearby region.
The twin disasters highlight the challenges facing underdeveloped Afghanistan’s next leader as the country heads into the second round of its presidential election on June 14.
“People have lost everything they had – houses, property, villages, agricultural fields, cattle,” Baghlan police spokesman Jawed Basharat said about the floods.
“There’s nothing left for them to survive. People don’t even have drinking water,” he said.
Television channels relayed footage of one man wading through a gushing stream of muddy brown flood waters, his back stooped under the weight of a burlap sack.
Basharat said the death toll had climbed to 80. The Afghan army, he added, was battling to deliver aid to the affected families, many of whom had fled to mountaintops in order to escape flood waters.
Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry had dispatched two helicopters to deliver aid packages to the area as roads and mountain passes were left devastated by the floods, said Obaidullah Ramin, an MP from Baghlan province.
“Some 9 kilometers of roads were destroyed by floodwaters, so officials are trying to deliver aid by air,” Ramin told AFP, confirming that 80 bodies had so far been recovered by authorities.
“Relief agencies have distributed some aid, but it is not enough. The problems of the flood-affected people need to be addressed fully,” he said, adding that he had toured the affected areas.
Most disaster management officials were difficult to reach Sunday due to poor telecommunication networks in the remote area.
The governor of the province, Sultan Mohammad Ebadi, warned the extent of the disaster was “massive.”
Bodies of women and children were among those recovered from the inundated areas, the National Disaster Management Authority said, adding that scores of people were missing.
“The floods destroyed four villages and washed away 2,000 residential houses, agricultural fields and also killed thousands of cattle,” Noor Mohammad Guzar, the governor of the remote affected district of Guzargah-e-Nur, told AFP.