Afghanistan: Floods kill 17 across seven regions

News and Press Release
Originally published
KABUL, 26 June 2007 (IRIN) - Unusual flash floods, and a landslide, have killed at least 17 people, mostly women and children, in seven provinces of Afghanistan, the country's disaster management authority and provincial officials said on 26 June.

On 25 June, torrential rain led to a wave of floods in the eastern Kunar Province that resulted in human losses and inflicted damage.

"We have identified seven individuals who died in the flooding. Three other individuals are missing," Shalezai Deedar, the governor of Kunar, told IRIN from his office.

According to Deedar, floods have also destroyed tens of houses, as well as fruit trees, bridges, roads, power dams and agricultural land.

"People are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, including foodstuffs, tents and medicine," said Deedar.

Flash floods

In the north of the capital, Kabul, three children and two women were killed by flash floods that hit Qara Bagh and Farza districts, Afghanistan's National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA) said.

Strong waves also damaged dozens of houses and killed tens of farm animals in the area, ANDMA added.

Elsewhere in Kapisa Province, to the north of Kabul, the administrator of Nejrab District reported three deaths and one person missing due to the flooding.

In Wardak, Logar, Nangarhar, Panjshir and Parwan provinces flooding destroyed crops, trees, farms and livestock, causing further hardships to many poor farmers.

On 24 June, a landslide caused by heavy rain took the lives of six children in the northern Kunduz Province, local official said.

Families evacuated

In the Kama District of eastern Nangarhar Province, about 40 people were stranded in a remote location for more than six hours, provincial authorities told IRIN.

"We called upon the Ministry of Defence to evacuate those people by helicopter," said Shukrullah Ehsas, an official from ANDMA in Nangarhar Province.

The affected people had been taken by military helicopter to a safe location, Ehsas said.

Humanitarian response

"We have called for an emergency meeting to be chaired by Second Vice-President Karim Khalili at which we will consider all necessary actions such as evacuation operations and aid delivery - should any be needed," the director of ANDMA, Matin Adrak, said.

Officials in most of the flood-affected provinces have called on the UN and international humanitarian aid organisations to assist them in managing the consequences of the recent spate of natural disasters.

Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said: "When we get reports like this we have to assess as quickly as possible what the needs are. Once we know those needs we will be in a position to act, or to make sure that others are responding."

Vulnerable to natural disasters

So far in 2007, heavy rain, flooding and avalanches have killed scores of people and destroyed hundreds of houses across Afghanistan.

The country, with its mostly rugged terrain and poor transport infrastructure, has been considered acutely vulnerable to natural disasters.

A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) mission that visited Afghanistan in July 2006 recommended the "revitalisation" and "modernisation" of the country's weak disaster response and management capacity.

In April 2007, IRIN reported that most of the 73 recommendations set forth by UNDAC mission had seen little or no progress.