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Flash floods kill at least 50 in one day in north Afghanistan


Kabul, Afghanistan — At least 50 people, mainly women and children, died Friday in flash flooding that ripped through Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, in the north of the country, a local official told AFP. 

“So far, the number of dead is 50 as per the hospital authorities of Baghlan-e-Markazi district of Baghlan province,” said Hedayatullah Hamdard, the head of the provincial natural disaster management department, adding that the toll could rise. 

The official explained that heavy seasonal rains sparked the flooding and that residents were unprepared for the sudden rush of water. 

Emergency personnel were “searching for any possible victims under the mud and rubble, with the help of security forces from the national army and police,” Hamdard said late Friday. 

“The weather is very gloomy right now and might pour down again,” he said. 

Dozens of tents, blankets and food were provided to those who lost their homes, the official said. 

Video footage seen on social media showed torrents of muddy water swamping roads and bodies shrouded in white and black cloth. 

In one video clip, children are heard crying, and a group of men are looking at floodwaters in which bits of broken wood and debris from homes can be seen. 

Since mid-April, flash flooding and other floods have left about 100 people dead in 10 of Afghanistan’s provinces, with no region entirely spared, according to authorities. 

Farmland has been swamped in a country where 80% of the more than 40 million people depend on agriculture to survive. 

Afghanistan had a relatively dry winter that is making it more difficult for the soil to absorb rainfall. 

The nation, ravaged by four decades of war, is one of the poorest in the world and, according to scientists, one of the worst-prepared to face the consequences of climate change. Afghanistan, which is responsible for 0.06% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, ranks sixth on the list of countries most at risk from climate change, experts say. 

Half of Afghanistan’s population lives under the poverty line, and 15 million people are experiencing food insecurity, according to the World Bank.