Afghan flood death toll hits 74; aid workers rush help to victims

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KUNDUZ, Afghanistan: Rescuers scrambled on Sunday to deliver food and medical supplies to Afghan families marooned on mountaintops, after flash floods killed 74 people in a remote northern district, washing away hundreds of homes and forcing thousands to flee.

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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 on 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 the 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 having drinking water,” he said.

“They urgently need water, food items, blankets and tents,” Basharat added.

He said the Afghan army was battling to deliver aid to the affected families, many of whom have fled to mountaintops to escape flood waters.

“Officials are at the airport in Pul-e-Khumri [Baghlan provincial capital], and we will try and reach there soon,” he told Agence France-Presse.

Most disaster management officials were difficult to reach Sunday because of poor telecommunication networks in the remote area.

The governor of the province, Sultan Mohammad Ebadi, said the death toll stood at 74, warning that the extent of the disaster was “massive” and that the toll was expected to rise further.

Bodies of women and children were among those recovered from the inundated areas, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said, adding that scores of people were missing.

“There is a lot of stagnant water, and there are more bodies under the rubble and mud,” Mohammad Nasim Kohzad, head of NDMA in Baghlan, told AFP.

“We are still looking for other victims of this flood,” he added.

AFP

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