Afghan landslide survivor search abandoned

Search called off for survivors of landslide which buried Afghan village, as officials revise down death toll.

    Rescuers have abandoned the search for survivors after a landslide buried an Afghan village, with officials also revising down the death toll.

    Afghan officials said on Saturday they thought that a maximum of about 500 people had died in the landslide that engulfed the village of Hobo Bank in Hindu Kush under tonnes of rubble.

    Earlier the officials said they feared that up to 2,100 people from 300 families were feared dead.

    "The first figure that we announced was obtained from local people, not from our technical team," Gul Mohammad Bedar, the deputy provincial governor of  Badakhshan, told AFP. "We think the dead toll will not rise beyond 500."

    UN authorities in Afghanistan could not verify the Afghan officials' death toll, saying 350 were confirmed dead and many more were missing. The UN said its focus was now on more than 4,000 people displaced by the disaster.

    Mark Bowden, a UN co-ordinator, told Al Jazeera that chances of finding survivors were slim due to the catastrophic nature of the landslide.

    There is a risk of further landslides in the area, officials say.

    Al Jazeera's Abdullah Shahood, reporting from Kabul, said at least 250 homes were buried under 60 metres of rubble and rescue teams were unable to reach them. He said: "The landslide brought the entire village under rubble."

    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. 

    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.

    Governor Adeep had earler appealed for more shovels to dig people out. "It's physically impossible. We don't have enough shovels, we need more machinery."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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