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 reports.
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 extensive damage.
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
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 fear.
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
In addition, the French nongovernment organization Solidarites
has begun work on clearing the main road in Khamard.
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
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 areas.
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 Rights Reserved.