News / Asia

    Thousands Feared Dead in Afghan Landslide

    Afghans search for survivors after landslide buried in Abi-Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 3, 2014.
    Afghans search for survivors after landslide buried in Abi-Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 3, 2014.
    Rescuers are desperately searching through tons of mud and rock debris for survivors of a massive landslide in Afghanistan's remote Badakshan province. Estimates of the death toll range from 250 to 2,000, and more landslides are expected.

    Using their bare hands and shovels, rescuers on Saturday were trying to dig through some 10 meters of mud and rock that collapsed under torrential rains and buried hundreds of homes in northern Afghanistan.
     
    Badakshan borders Tajikistan, China and Pakistan in the far north of Afghanistan. Because of the remoteness of the location and the narrowness of the roads, delivering heavy rescue equipment is difficult, officials said.
     
    U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his support to Afghanistan after hearing reports of the devastation.
     
    “Just as the United States has stood with the people of Afghanistan through a difficult decade, we stand ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster for even as our war comes to an end this year, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people will endure,” he said.
     
    The local head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Aidan O’Leary, said a series of flash floods has hit the area in the past week. Then Friday, the entire side of a mountain collapsed, sending down a massive landslide that buried some 300 homes in the village Ab Barak.
     
    • Survivors sit in front of their tents near the site of the landslide that killed hundreds of people. Authorities are trying to help the 700 families displaced by the torrent of mud that swept through their village, in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 6, 2014.
    • Survivors wait to receive food donations near the site of the landslide that buried Abi-Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 6, 2014.
    • Afghanis show their injuries to local and international journalists after police fired shots into the air to disperse a crowd that had rushed toward a truck carrying aid, near the site of the landslide that buried Abi Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 6, 2014.
    • Survivors wait to receive food donations near the site of the landslide that buried Abi-Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 6, 2014.
    • Survivors gather around the lifeless body of a woman after her body was recovered from the landslide that buried Abi-Barik village, Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 6, 2014.
    • An ariel view shows the site of the landslide that buried Abi Barik village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 5, 2014.
    • Afghans search for survivors after a massive landslide landslide buried a village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 2, 2014.
    • This image made from AP video shows people searching for survivors after a massive landslide landslide buried a village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 2, 2014.
    • This image made from AP video shows people searching for survivors after a massive landslide landslide buried a village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 2, 2014.
    • Afghans search for survivors after a massive landslide landslide buried a village in Badakhshan province, northeastern Afghanistan, May 2, 2014.

    Rescuers who rushed in to help from nearby villages were caught in subsequent landslides, he said. Not many were expected to have survived.
     
    “It’s also expected that the intent is to designate the overall site as a mass grave. The focus for ongoing relief and humanitarian efforts is very much on those who survived and approximately another 4,000 Afghans who have been displaced in villages in the immediate vicinity where there is also further risks of landslides taking place,” said O’Leary.
     
    Survivors and the homeless are in desperate need of water, medical help, food and emergency shelter, he added.
     
    The Afghan Red Crescent Society and various other non-governmental organizations are rushing aid to the area.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora