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Hundreds killed in Afghan landslide

Hindu Kush disaster buries an entire village, leaving at least 300 dead and more than 2,000 others missing.

Last updated: 03 May 2014 06:17
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At least 300 people have been killed and up to 2,000 others are missing after a landslide buried a village in northern Afghanistan.

Heavy rains caused a hill to collapse on the village of Hobo Barik on Friday, Badakshan province Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said.

Al Jazeera's Abdullah Shahood, reporting from Kabul, said at least 250 homes buried under 60 metres of rubble and rescue teams unable to reach them. 

He said: "The landslide brought the entire village under rubble. It is hard to say how many people are trapped but government officials are estimating those numbers can be up to 2000 people." 

The International Organisation for Migration has been helping families recover from the flash flooding of the past few weeks. Matthew Graydon, from the IOM, said: "This is a relatively remote area but the scale of this landslide is devastating."

He added that early assessments suggested as many as 2,700 people had died.

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, said he was deeply saddened by the situation and had ordered disaster authorities to deal with the situation and deliver aid. 

Difficult to reach

Aid was on its way, but the remote village is difficult to reach and the heavy machinery needed to dig those trapped is not easily transported.

Rescue crews are working but do not have enough equipment, Governor Adeep said, as he appealed for more shovels to dig people out. "It's physically impossible. We don't have enough shovels, we need more machinery."

The Badakhshan provincial police chief, Major General Faziluddin Hayar, said rescuers pulled seven survivors and three bodies from the mounds of mud and earth but held out little hope that more people would be found alive.

"Now we can only help the displaced people. Those trapped under the landslide and who have lost lives, it is impossible to do anything for them," Hayar said.

The Afghan army has been deployed to the area to help with rescue efforts and local authorities have evacuated nearby villages over concerns of more landslides within the area.

Badakshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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