Afghanistan floods kill dozens, worsen desperate situation

Flooding caused by heavy rains destroys homes and leaves trail of devastation across seven provinces.

    Poor infrastructure also makes it difficult for aid workers to reach isolated areas [Jalil Ahmad/Reuters]
    Poor infrastructure also makes it difficult for aid workers to reach isolated areas [Jalil Ahmad/Reuters]

    Flash floods in western Afghanistan have killed at least 35 people, destroyed homes and swept through makeshift shelters that housed displaced families, according to a government official.

    Flooding caused by heavy rains started spreading on Thursday and left a trail of devastation across seven provinces.

    Hashmat Bahaduri, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), said the floods killed at least 12 people in Faryab province and 10 others in Herat province.

    Eight people were killed in Badghis province and five in Balkh province, Bahaduri told AFP news agency, adding that more than 3,000 houses had been destroyed.

    Floods are a common occurrence in Afghanistan, although not usually this severe [Jalil Ahmad/Reuters]

    Another 12 people were missing and more than 700 houses were destroyed or severely damaged.

    Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced in the region by last year's severe drought and the 17-year-long war with the Taliban.

    Floods in early March caused further destruction and put this year's wheat harvest at risk.

    "My house and my farmland have been destroyed by floods. If you go and see the destruction, it makes you cry," said Shir Ahmad, who lives in a village in Herat province, which borders Iran.

    Earlier this month, at least 20 people were killed by flash floods caused by heavy rains that swept away thousands of homes and vehicles in southern Kandahar province [File: Sidiqullah Khan/AP]

    Mir Gulabuddin Miri, director of the Afghan Red Crescent in Herat, said access to some areas had been cut off, preventing teams from reaching affected people.

    "The destruction is huge. Over 12 areas in the province have been badly hit, people have lost their houses. We've only been able to provide them with some food and blankets so far," he said.

    Poor infrastructure also makes it difficult for aid workers to reach isolated areas.

    Floods are a common occurrence in Afghanistan, although usually not so severe. The country has little infrastructure, such as ditches and sewers, to manage water runoff from rain or melting snow.

    SOURCE: News agencies