Rescuers gave up hope yesterday of finding survivors from a landslide in north-east Afghanistan in which more than 300 villagers died, engulfed by up to 100 metres of mud.
The final death toll could rise as high as 500.
As the aid effort focused on the hundreds of people displaced, there were fears that the unstable hillside above the remote village of Ab Barak in Badakhshan province might cave in again.
Karim Khalili, Afghan vice president, and Bismillah Mohammadi, the Afghan defence minister, pray for the victims of landslide.
It collapsed at about 11am on Friday as people were trying to recover belongings and livestock after a smaller landslip a few hours earlier. The landslides were triggered by torrential rain.
“Based on our reports, 300 houses are under the debris,” Badakhshan governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said. “We have a list of around 300 people confirmed dead.
Villagers and a few dozen police equipped with only basic digging tools resumed their search when daylight broke yesterday but it soon became clear there was no hope of finding survivors.
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said the focus was on those made homeless, either directly as a result of the landslide or as a precautionary measure from villages assessed to be at risk.
Their main needs were water, medical support, counselling support, food and emergency shelter, said Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the UN mission.
The UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa, directed the Khalifa Foundation to send urgent humanitarian aid including tents, food and medicines. The Afghan military flew rescue teams to the area. The remote mountain region is served by only narrow, poor roads which have themselves been damaged by more than a week of heavy rain.
t least 100 people were being treated for injuries. Doctors set up facilities in a stable building.
Hundreds of people camped out overnight in near freezing conditions, although some were given tents. Officials distributed food and water.
he impoverished area, dotted with villages of mud-brick homes nestled in valleys beside bare slopes, has been hit by several landslides in recent years. This year seasonal rains and spring snow melt have killed more than 100 people and caused heavy destruction across large swathes of northern Afghanistan.