"At the moment, 38 people are missing and most likely are dead," Andrei Khanzhin, the liaison officer for the United Nations in southern Kyrgyzstan, told IRIN from the western city of Osh, noting that the rescuers had already recovered five bodies.
On Sunday afternoon, the landslide, triggered by heavy rains and melting snow, slammed into Karatarik, a village of between 200 and 300 people in Uzgen District, about 100 km east of Osh. "The weather has been quite bad for the past four or five days," Khanzhin said.
According to the official, of those missing, 17 were under the age of 18, saying that relief workers, in coordination with local and government emergency teams, had already evacuated another 16 families from the area in view of the threat of another landslide. "They are currently doing a needs assessment of the area," he said.
While unable to say exactly how many people were affected, he noted that 11 homes had been destroyed, and that he himself would travel to the region that day. "Access to the area is OK, but road infrastructure is poor in the region," he said.
At the moment, the government was coping with the situation and no appeal for international assistance had been issued, he added.
Landslides are not unusual in this tiny landlocked state of close to five million inhabitants, most of them concentrated at the rim of the Fergana Basin. The frequent occurrence of such events in this area is caused by complex interactions of geological, tectonic, geomorphological and hydro-meteorological factors.
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