KABUL, Afghanistan, July 22, 2004 (ENS):
Flash floods and mudslides brought on by heavy rains
last week have devastated villages and farmland in Afghanistan's
north and central highlands, according to UN and aid
agency officials. Thirteen people lost their lives in
the disaster and thousands of families are affected.
An earthquake on Sunday in Paktia and Herat provinces
have killed two people in Paktia province and affected
150 families in the western region, the Afghan Red Crescent
The quake, about 130 kilometers (50 miles) southeast
of Kabul, was measured at a magnitude of 5.1 by the
U.S. Geological Survey, National Earthquake Information
Center and follows several recent low key tremors felt
across the country and the region.
Floods have affected the central provinces of Logar,
Ghazni, Paktia and Bamyan. In north, Badakhshan, Samangan
and Baghlan are among the hardest hit provinces, while
the eastern provinces of Kunar and Nooristan have suffered
The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator and Deputy
Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kabul
say that 23 villages in the Khamard district of Bamyan
province are flooded and a dam formed over the past
few days by debris from the slides is blocking the flow
of flood waters.
The Office of the Resident UN Coordinator says provincial
authorities in Bamyan province have requested assistance
for Khamard district. They need equipment and work crews
to help dislodge the dam. There is concern that if the
dam bursts from the pressure of floodwaters, villages
will be destroyed.
The stagnant muddy water behind the dam may become
a breeding ground for water-borne diseases, officials
Some help appears to be on the way. US$18,500 from
the government of Denmark's Emergency Grant was approved
on Wednesday for emergency road clearance work in Khamard
and the transport of relief to the flooded villages.
In addition, the French nongovernment organization
Solidarites has begun work on clearing the main road
Neither the U.S. troops in Afghanistan nor the U.S.
Agency for International Development has yet responded
to the crisis.
The Afghan government, UN agencies, NGOs and the UN
Assistance Mission to Afghanistan are planning further
assessment and relief missions to the affected villages
in Khamard districts.
In the northeastern province of Badakshan eight people
have died in the floods. The Provincial Disaster Management
committee is distributing relief supplies.
UN officials say that about 60 percent of the region's
harvest has been wiped out and farmland has been damaged
by debris and is now covered with water and silt.
The Afghan Red Crescent Society is working in concert
with the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, which
is the coordinating agency for all relief efforts.
With support of the International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) and in coordination with
other relief agencies, the Afghan Red Crescent Society
has in the initial stage of the disaster distributed
rice, wheat, cooking oil, tea, sugar, pressure cookers,
blankets, tents, kitchen sets and plastic sheets.
A two day coordination meeting chaired by the Afghan
Ministry of Rehabilitation and Rural Development with
major stakeholders was completed on Wednesday, and resulted
in a call for humanitarian agencies to assist with the
response and rehabilitation effort in the flood-affected
The Afghan Red Crescent Society was recognized as the
organization which was the first to effectively respond
to the disaster, the IFRC said, saying, "Afghanistan
is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters such
as earthquake, flood and drought."
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2004. All