Tajikistan: Landslide destroys village

ISLAMABAD, 7 March (IRIN) - A landslide in the southern Khatlon Province last week devastated more than half the houses in a village, forcing people to take shelter in a local school. "It's a very major slide, but fortunately it was quite slow moving, meaning that people managed to escape," Paul Handley, a humanitarian affairs officer with the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told IRIN from the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on Friday.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported on 1 March that the hillside above the village of Ghorvodor began to slide into the locality on 26 February, and completely destroyed 11 houses and damaged another 22. Although no deaths and casualties were reported, numerous heads of livestock were reportedly lost.

The Federation reported that the landslide had stabilised, with the affected 181 people being relocated to a government school building or had moved in with their relatives. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has provided all of them with food aid. According to Handley, the field coordination on the ground between the local authorities of the ministry of emergencies, the Federation and the WFP is functioning smoothly.

The immediate needs of the affected families included household goods, clothing, shelter and food. A one-off distribution of household goods and clothing to the 12 families forced to rapidly evacuate their homes was required. Shelter needs are currently being met, but tents may be needed when the school reopens. WFP was providing a one-off distribution of food to the 12 most affected families. Each family member received a ration of 50 kg of wheat flour, 3.6 kg of oil and 4.8 kg of peas. Children under five years of age had received half of that, a Federation information bulletin said.

Government officials are in the process of assessing the situation. Their initial plans include relocating some villagers to an area south of Kurgan-Tube in the same province. Those staying back in the area will be helped to rebuild their houses. The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan is reportedly distributing mattresses, pillows and used clothing to the 12 affected families.

The Tajik news agency Asia-Plus reported that a deep crack in a hill overlooking the nearby village of Oftobluk was also threatening the community with a landslide. The agency quoted a government official as saying that some 2,000 people from 350 households live in the village.

This mountainous nation of six and a half million is prone to natural disasters; landslides, flash floods, earthquakes and avalanches frequently occur. In February, six people were killed by an avalanche near the mountain village of Ziddi, about 60 km north of Dushanbe. In addition, all the roads to the city of Khorugh, capital of the eastern Gorno Badakhshan Province were blocked by heavy snowfall. Around 200,000 people in the area, which is regarded as one of the most vulnerable in Tajikistan, faced food and fuel shortages.


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