Focus now on Afghan families displaced by slide
Published: May 4, 2014 06:16PM
Updated: May 4, 2014 11:00AM
image
Survivors sit on a hillside as others watch the rescue effort near the site of Friday's landslide that buried Abi-Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, Saturday, May 3, 2014. Afghan rescuers and volunteers armed with shovels and little more than their bare hands dug through the mud Saturday after a massive landslide swept through a village the day before, turning it into an earthen tomb holding hundreds of bodies, officials said. Aid groups struggle to bring food, shelter and water to the region, as the government tries to ascertain just how many people were killed. (AP Photo/Amir Shah)

Kabul, Afghanistan • As Afghans observed a day of mourning Sunday for the hundreds of people killed in a horrific landslide, authorities tried to help the 700 families displaced by the torrent of mud that swept through their village.

The families left their homes due to the threat of more landslides in the village of Abi Barik in Badakhshan province, Minister for Rural Rehabilitation Wais Ahmad Barmak said.

Aid groups and the government have rushed to the remote area in northeastern Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan and China with food, shelter and water.

A spokesman for the International Organization of Migration, Matt Graydon, said the group is bringing solar-powered lanterns, blankets and shelter kits. He said after a visit to the area Sunday that some residents have gone to nearby villages to stay with family or friends while others have slept out in the open.

“Some people left with almost nothing,” Graydon said.

Authorities gave $400,000 to the provincial governor Saturday to use in the aid effort, said Barmak, who promised the government would provide more money if it’s needed.

President Hamid Karzai designated Sunday as a day of mourning for the hundreds of people who died in Abi Barik when a wall of mud and earth broke off from the hill above and turned part of the village into a cemetery.

Authorities still don’t have an exact figure on how many people died in the landslide, Barmak said. Estimates have ranged from 250 to 2,700, but authorities have said it will be impossible to dig up all the bodies.

The government has identified 250 people who died and estimated that 300 houses were buried under tons of mud, Barmak said.

Afghanistan has suffered through some three decades of war since the Soviet invasion in 1979. But natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches have taken a toll on a country with little infrastructure or development outside of its major cities.

Already this year, 159 people have died in April and May from flooding, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Sunday in a statement. New waves of flooding are expected in two northern provinces, the agency said.

———

Associated Press writer Rebecca Santana in Kabul contributed to this report.