350 dead, over 2,000 missing after landslide in Afghanistan

Hundreds of homes were buried under mud and rocks when a section of a mountain caved in following torrential rain.

Rescuers have reached the area and are searching for survivors.

Reports from Kabul say much of north and east Afghanistan has been hit by heavy rain in recent days, and some 150 people have died in flooding. But some other say this disaster appears to be on a far bigger scale.

‘The number of deceased has increased to 350 and significant displacement is expected,’ the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

‘The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is helping with coordinating local authorities to rescue those still trapped.’

About 1,000 houses were affected - 300 of them buried immediately after the side of a mountain slipped downwards.

As it was Friday morning, a day off in Afghanistan, people were at home when the landslide happened and whole families were lost under tons of mud.

Hundreds of other houses are also threatened.

Badakhshan police commander Fazludeen Ayaz told some news wires that all of the village of Hargu - home to 215 families - was covered by earth and rock.

He said that it was unlikely that anyone would be rescued alive from under the rubble and that even if there was rescue equipment available in the remote area, it would be difficult to dig people out.

It was still raining in Friday late night and there are fears of further landslides.

Badakhshan is located in the most remote and mountainous part of the country, bordering Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.

Searching for survivors is a huge task, our correspondent reports. The governor of Badakhshan province Shah Waliullah Adeeb told the AP news agency that rescue crews did not have enough 
equipment and appealed for shovels.

‘It’s physically impossible right now,’ Adeeb said. ‘We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.’

He said that residents of nearby villages had been evacuated amid concerns about further landslides.
Police say that the landslide happened about lunchtime in Afghanistan on Friday.

A smaller landslide was reported in Badakhshan on Thursday.
Badakhshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir 
mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country. The area has seen few attacks from insurgents following the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Afghans living in the rugged mountains of northern 
Afghanistan are used to avalanches. The most deadly one in the past two years occurred in February 2010, when more than 170 people were killed at the 3,800-metre -high Salang Pass, which is the major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the capital to the north.
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