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Afghanistan landslide leaves 25 dead

February 19, 2024

Heavy rain and snow triggered a landslide in eastern Afghanistan that killed at least 25 people and trapped more beneath the rubble.

People try to push their vehicle stuck along a road during a snowfall near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chaman on January 18, 2023
The mountainous regions of eastern Afghanistan are prone to heavy snowfallImage: ABDUL BASIT/AFP

An overnight landslide has killed at least 25 people, injured eight and left others trapped in the Nuristan province of eastern Afghanistan, officials from the country's disaster ministry said on Monday.

After large parts of the country saw heavy snowfall, the landslip swept through the village of Nakre in the Tatin valley, destroying around 20 homes and burying more under snow and rubble.

"Rescue efforts are under way and the number of dead may increase," provincial head of information and culture Jamiullah Hashimi told the AFP news agency. "But it is still snowing."

Afghanistan is accustomed to harsh winters but snow has arrived later than usual this year.

Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Adel, the head of public works in the province, said inclement weather was continuing to hinter rescue teams.

"Due to clouds and rain, the helicopter cannot land in Nuristan," he said, adding that snow had blocked one of the main roads into the province, making "the rescue operation difficult."

Afghanistan: vulnerable to disaster and lacking aid

Nuristan province, which hugs the southern end of the Hindu Kush mountain range on the border with Pakistan, is mostly covered by mountainous forests.

Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries, ravaged by decades of war, prone to natural disasters and vulnerable to extreme weather events linked to climate change. It has been hit by devastating floods and earthquakes in recent years.

This year, exceptionally low levels of rain have forced many farmers to delay planting — a huge blow to a country so reliant on agriculture.

Once flush with humanitarian aid following the US-led invasion of the country in 2001, funding to Afghanistan has plummeted since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, partly due to restrictions the regime has imposed on women.

mf/nm (AFP, dpa)