Afghan search operations continue as flash floods kill more than 160

Salaam Times and AFP

Rescue workers in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, search for survivors of flash floods that killed at least 160 people and destroyed hundreds of houses. [NAJIBA NOORI// AFPTV / AFP]

CHARIKAR -- Rescue workers were searching Thursday (August 27) for bodies in the debris of collapsed houses after flash floods fuelled by torrential rains killed at least 162 people in Afghanistan.

At least 100 residents died in Charikar, north of Kabul, when flooding overnight on Tuesday (August 25) caused hundreds of buildings to collapse.

Abdul Ghayor, a labourer who was working in the capital, said he had rushed back to Charikar to look for his family only to find his house had been swept away.

"My entire family is gone," Ghayor told AFP, saying 10 relatives had died and one was missing.


A villager reacts next to his destroyed house as rescuers search for survivors and bodies after a flash flood affected the area at Sayrah-e-Hopiyan in Charikar, Parwan Province, on August 26. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]


Afghan National Army personnel deliver drinking water to survivors of flash floods in Parwan Province August 27. [201st Silab Corps of Afghan National Army]


Rescue operations are under way in Charikar, Parwan Province, August 27. [Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority]

In parts of Charikar, anxious residents gathered to see if rescue workers using heavy machinery would be able to pull loved ones from the wreckage.

Many residents, using spades and shovels, joined in the rescue operation, clearing piles of rubble as they searched for bodies August 27.

Others stood on rooftops under continued heavy rain, holding on to their salvaged belongings.

Safiullah Safi, a community leader, said most of the houses in his central neighbourhood had been destroyed.

"It is a catastrophe here with so many people dead and missing, including many children," he said.

Emergency relief

Officials are still assessing overall damage, but the flood destroyed about 200 houses and killed about 600 head of livestock in Parwan Province, of which Charikar is the capital, said Qasim Haidary, an Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority senior official.

About 1,000 families in the province have received food and shelter, he said, but he called on international relief organisations to help.

The Afghan National Army has begun providing food to and meeting the basic needs of the flood victims, while the US embassy in Kabul pledged its support.

President Ashraf Ghani has ordered emergency relief to be sent to Charikar, the presidential palace said in a statement.

Flash floods have killed dozens more Afghans in 12 other provinces this week, including Nangarhar, Panjshir, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Paktika and Kapisa.

At least 19 people were killed in Kabul and 30 in neighbouring Kapisa, Haidary said.

In Surobi District of Kabul Province, a flash flood killed eight people and injured 13 more, Provincial Public Health Director Khushal Nabizada said.

Torrential downpours and flash floods claim scores of lives annually in Afghanistan.

Many poorly built houses, mostly in rural areas, are at risk of collapse during seasonal rains.

Earlier this month, 16 residents, including 15 children, were killed and dozens of houses were destroyed when flash floods ravaged a village in Nangarhar Province.

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Parwan and a number of other provinces are afflicted and its inhabitants are severely grief-stricken. May Almighty God forgive the people who have departed and reward those who have been harmed. We urge our people not to wait for the ghost (fraudulent) help of the government in such incidents, as they may be busy filling their own pockets. Instead, you should try to help each other and do not withhold from cooperating each other. Do not miss this benevolent opportunity to help the affected brothers and families. The people of Afghanistan, regardless of any ethnicity or race, have expressed their grief and called for help and cooperation. This reaction is desirable and humane, but if you want to please your God besides this humanitarian act, Please direct the motives of this cooperation and sympathy towards "belief". We should love Parwan and the people of Parwan and other parts of this country not because they belong to the geography of Afghanistan or just for they are humans, but we should love them because they are from the land of jihad and for being Muslims. Make your feelings and pain ingrained with "Islamic thought" so that in addition to meet the human demand, you receive the satisfaction of Almighty God. My brothers, I share your grief just the same way as we share the grief of the Muslims of Nangarhar, Kandahar, Herat, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.


A good way of controlling these flash floods is to make water dams and big lakes so that, from one side it can be used to produce electricity and on the other side, instead that the water goes to Pakistan and Iran, it can be injected in the earth of Afghanistan, and prevent destruction of the environment.


Why is Afghanistan so vulnerable to natural disasters? Recently heavy floods in Parwan, Kapisa, Panjshir and other provinces of Afghanistan, left hundreds of people dead, injured and homeless, and washed away tens of the houses altogether and made millions of Muslims of the country sorrowful. Afghanistan is a landlocked country. The probability of outbreak of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, storms, floods and heavy snowfalls in the winter and spring seasons are very high. Researches show that 21 provinces of Afghanistan are more vulnerable against floods and landslides. One of the basic duties of the governments is to protect the lives and properties of the people, and one of the basic obligations of governments is to take precautionary measures to manage natural disasters. However, it has been less common in this country that natural disasters were predicted beforehand or plans were made to prevent their occurring, or measures were taken to reduce their damage and risks before they occur. Severe economic and political dependence of the Afghan government on foreign countries and the 19-year rule of the worn-out capitalist system in Afghanistan have led to the looting of public property with a dirty utilitarian attitude, or spent on ideogramic programs like Loya Jirga so that basic attention is not paid on the management of natural disasters. Therefore, in addition to geographical location, one of the reasons for the vulnerability of many pro


The consecutive downpours in the recent days resulted floods in Paktia, Logar, Maidan Wardak, Parwan, Kapisa and Panjshir provinces which caused sorrows for the compatriots. We ask paradise for the martyrs and urgent and complete healing for the persons injured by the natural floods. We share the sorrows and pain of the diseased families and we offer condolences on the occasion. We call on all the government departments, health agencies and donor organizations to provide health and financial assistance to the diseased families who have sustained self and financial loses. Also, ask them to prepare for the future events and keep the people safe from the risks of the floods.


The painful and tragic incident that happened in Parwan, Kabul, Logar and other provinces of the country due to the flash floods, and in which a large number of our dear compatriots lost their lives, got injured and suffered huge financial losses, caused us deep pain and sorrow. I ask paradise for the martyrs of this bloody event and an urgent and perfect recovery or healing for the wounded from Almighty God. I hope that the responsible and relevant institutions will reach to the survivors of the victims and the suffered promptly and on time.