Flash flood kills 19 in Afghanistan; many missing

May 20, 2012 - 4:46 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Flood waters ravaged a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 19 people and destroying hundreds of homes, officials said Sunday.

About 60 other people were missing and rescuers were looking for them across Sar-e-Pul, the capital of a province with the same name, said Sayed Faizullah Sadat, the national disaster director in the area.

Northern Afghanistan gets hit nearly every spring by flash flooding from heavy rains and snow melting off the mountains.

Sadat said 1,000 houses were destroyed and 10,000 people were forced to find shelter in mosques, schools and a teacher-training center.

"Most of these families have lost their houses — all their property, their livelihoods," he said.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the water rose to 1.5 meters on Saturday during the peak of the flooding.

The office said four humanitarian assessment teams tried to get to the city on Saturday, but could not access the area.

"Most of the roads are blocked by the flooding," said Sayed Jahangir, deputy provincial police chief. "Hundreds of houses have been destroyed. We were able to move people to different places that we think will be safe."

The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority reported that several hundred people were rescued from rooftops.

Flash flooding also has been reported in northern Takhar province.

Mustafa Rasouli, a spokesman for the province, said heavy rains continued Sunday in the area where flash flooding killed two people. He said 3,000 animals, including sheep and cows also were killed, and about 1,000 hectares of farm land had been destroyed in the provincial capital of Taloqan and six other districts.

"Two thousand houses have been partially or completely destroyed," he said.