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Afghanistan landslide kills 350, hundreds missing

Last updated on: May 03, 2014 22:27 IST

Afghanistan landslide kills 350, hundreds missing

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A landslide triggered by heavy rain buried about a third of the remote northeastern Afghan village of Hobo Barik on Friday, killing at least 350 people and leaving hundreds missing.

Many victims were villagers who dashed to help their neighbours when a landslide struck but were then caught in a second wave of mud. It was reported that a wedding was taking place in the village.

“Now we can only help the displaced people. Those trapped under the landslide and who have lost lives, it is impossible to do anything for them,” said Major General Faziluddin Hayar, the Badakhshan provincial police chief.

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Image: Afghan villagers gather at the site of the landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province
Photographs: Reuters

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"There are around 1,000 houses in Hobo Barik, 300 were buried when this happened, then 600 local people who live in the site went to help but unfortunately the hill collapsed a second time," said provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib.

"The mud is 10 to 30 metres deep, we couldn't even reach the bodies, so we decided to just pray for them and make the site into a mass grave," he added.

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Image: Afghan villagers gather at the site of the landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province
Photographs: Reuters

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Afghanistan landslide kills 350, hundreds missing

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People from nearby villages made their way to Hobo Barik, in the north east of the country, to try to help the rescue operation but were severely hampered by a lack of shovels and machinery. The mud covering the devastated village was said to be several metres thick.

Landslide and avalanches are common in the province but are rarely so deadly.

A UN representative in Kabul said roads to the village were open but passage was not suitable for heavy machinery.

"Due to the size of the landslide, it is impossible to search for bodies without advanced machinery," Colonel Sayad said.

"We hope to get some machinery and aid soon."

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Image: An excavator digs at the site of a landslide at the Argo district in Badakhshan province
Photographs: Reuters

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US President Barack Obama, speaking at a White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, expressed his sympathy for the Afghan people.

"Just as the United States has stood with the people of Afghanistan through a difficult decade, we stand ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster, for even as our war there comes to an end this year, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people will endure," he said.

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.


Image: Afghan National Army troops load supply for survivors of the Badakhshan landslide onto a helicopter in Kabul
Photographs: Reuters

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