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Over 2,100 Confirmed Dead in Afghan Landslide; US Offers Help

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By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
May 3, 2014|9:27 am

A massive landslide triggered by heavy rains in northeastern Afghanistan buried a village Friday, killing at least 2,100 people and displacing thousands of others. U.S. President Barack Obama has offered help even as further landslide is feared at the site amid ongoing rescue efforts.

"More than 2,100 people from 300 families are all dead," Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial governor, told Reuters Saturday. At least 100 others were injured.

A hill caved in due to days of heavy rain and buried a third of all houses in the village of Hobo Barik in Badakhshan province, bordering Tajikistan, with at least 10 meters of mud and debris Friday afternoon.

The people in the region have suffered numerous landslides and avalanches in the past, but not as enormous as Friday's.

The hillside above the village still remains shaky and may lead to further landslide, endangering the lives of about 4,000 displaced people and hundreds of rescue workers, officials said.

Provincial Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb told The Associated Press that rescue crews were doing their job but didn't have enough equipment. "It's physically impossible right now," he said. "We don't have enough shovels; we need more machinery."

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"Around 700 families were rescued, we have sent in some basic assistance such as tents and blankets," Sayed Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, provincial director of the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, told Agence France Presse.

At a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama offered help.

"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.

"A response is being mobilized for those who survived but were displaced, with some partners already on the ground," the UN mission in Afghanistan said in a statement. "The immediate focus is on approximately 700 families displaced either directly as a result of this slide or as a precautionary measure from villages assessed to be at further risk. Key needs for them are water, medical support, counseling support, food and emergency shelter."

NATO's Regional Command in the north is in coordinating with the Afghan National Army for search and rescue efforts.

A memorial ceremony is scheduled for Saturday and the site will likely be designated as a mass grave.

Friday's landslide comes after recent severe flooding elsewhere in northern Afghanistan that killed at least 150 people and affected 67,000 people in the provinces of Jowzjan, Faryab and Sar-e-Pul. The floods damaged or destroyed about 3,500 houses.

 

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