Afghan landslide death toll revised down to 500

Saturday 03 May 2014 22.52
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The UN said the immediate focus is on more than 4,000 people displaced by the landslide
The UN said the immediate focus is on more than 4,000 people displaced by the landslide
Villagers gather after the massive landslide buried a village
Villagers gather after the massive landslide buried a village
Afghan villagers pray at the scene in Argo district of Badakhshan province
Afghan villagers pray at the scene in Argo district of Badakhshan province
The village in Badakhshan province is buried in up to 100 metres of mud
The village in Badakhshan province is buried in up to 100 metres of mud

Afghan officials said that a maximum of about 500 people died in a landslide that engulfed a village yesterday, updating earlier information that 2,500 people were confirmed dead.

"The first figure that we announced was obtained from local people, not from our technical team," Gul Mohammad Bedar, the deputy governor of Badakhshan province, told AFP.

"We think the dead toll will not rise beyond 500."

Many villagers were at Friday prayers in two mosques when they were entombed by a tide of debris.

A second landslide hit people who had rushed to assist those in need.

Rescuers abandoned the search for survivors today, with officials saying 300 people were now confirmed dead.

"Based on our reports, 300 houses are under the debris," Badakhshan governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb told reporters at the scene.

"We cannot continue the search and rescue operation any more, as the houses are under metres (feet) of mud.

"We will offer prayers for the victims and make the area a mass grave," he said.

The United Nations earlier said that the immediate focus is on more than 4,000 people displaced by the landslide.

Their main needs are water, medicine, food and emergency shelter.

The landslide struck in a remote mountainous region in the northeast.

The impoverished village in Badakhshan province, bordering Tajikistan, is buried in up to 100 metres of mud.

NATO-led coalition troops are on standby to assist but said the Afghan government had not asked for help.