At least 20 people, including many children, have been killed in flash floods in six districts and the capital of Afghanistan‘s southern province of Kandahar, the United Nations has said.
The victims were killed when their homes collapsed or the vehicles they were travelling in were swept away, according to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
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“At least 10 people, including children, are still missing,” the UN agency said in a statement on Saturday.
“It is anticipated that up to 2,000 homes may have been damaged,” with severe damage to infrastructure also being reported.
Kandahar’s Deputy Governor Abdul Hanan Moneeb said the flooding was the worst in seven years, with many nomadic herders camped in the area swept away by the floodwaters along with their livestock.
The official added that 400 families have been rescued by the Afghan army since the flooding began late on Friday night.
Rescue operations, however, were largely delayed due to heavy rainfall, Raziq Shirzai, the provincial commander of the Afghan air force, told the AFP news agency.
Disasters such as avalanches and flash floods often hit mountainous areas and river valleys of Afghanistan as the snow melts in the spring and summer. The situation is made worse by deforestation.
Heavy snowfall across large swaths of Afghanistan this winter has raised fears of severe flooding as spring approaches, following years of devastating drought in the country.
Nearly 50 people have been killed as of February 12 due to flooding in Afghanistan so far this year, according to the UN.