500 Feared Dead In Afghanistan Landslide

At least 500 people are feared dead and up to 2000 others missing after a landslide buried a village in northern Afghanistan, officials have said.

Heavy rains caused a hill to collapse on the village of Hobo Barik on Friday, Badakshan province Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said.

Matt Graydon from the International Organisation for Migration echoed the dire picture: “This is a relatively remote area but the scale of this landslide is devastating. Our team has just returned and [according to initial assessments] as many as 2,700 people have died.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has released a statement saying he is deeply saddened by the situation and has ordered the Disaster Management Authority to deal with the situation and deliver aid.

Aid is on its way but the remote village is difficult to reach and the heavy machinery needed to dig those trapped is not easily transported.

Rescue crews are working but do not have enough equipment Governor Adeep said, appealing for more shovels to dig people out. “It’s physically impossible right now. We don’t have enough shovels, we need more machinery.”

The Afghan army has been deployed to the area to help with rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, local authorities have evacuated nearby villages over concerns of more landslides within the area.

Badakshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country.

The province normally has many landslides, but they generally occur in remote areas and produce no casualties, said Mohammad Usman Abu Zar from the Meteorology Department of Badakhshan province.

The most deadly event in the past two years occurred in February 2010, when more than 170 people were killed at the 3,800 metre-high Salang Pass, which is the major route through the mountains that connects the capital to the north. [AlJazeera]