At least 100 homes destroyed in Taliban-controlled area, say government officials with limited access, after flash floods wash away homes, burying villagers in mud and water.
At least 150 people have died in flooding in Afghanistan's mountainous northeastern Nuristan province, Taliban said, as villagers searched desperately for survivors in the insurgent-controlled area.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid offered little information on Thursday about the deaths a day earlier.
Getting reliable information on the disaster was difficult, according to Afghan officials, as Kamdesh district in the mountainous area had fallen under the control of Taliban and had poor telecommunications.
The spokesperson for the provincial governor, Mohammad Sayed Mohmand, said water had inundated the village of Terdesh, destroying at least 100 homes.
Mohmand said dozens of families fled the flooding to the neighbouring Kunar region.
The Nuristan government is appealing to the Taliban to allow rescue teams into their area to offer help, he added.
Taliban to allow rescue, relief missions
The Taliban said it will allow humanitarian agencies safe access to the area.
"Unfortunately half of a village, which had more than 100 houses, was washed away by a violent flood last night and sadly more than 100 people are dead or missing," Mujahid said earlier.
He said Taliban fighters were helping villagers look for missing people.
Nuristan Provincial Council Chief Engineer Sadullah - “heavy rains caused flash floods. Village of Miardish in Kamdish district hit, 200 homes destroyed. 40 bodies recovered by villagers. Tens of people missing. Death toll could exceed 200. I call on gov and humanitarian pic.twitter.com/ypg4YALE3O— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) July 29, 2021
Villagers search for bodies
Nuristan Governor Haafiz Abdul Qayum, quoted by local media, said security forces have not been able to enter the area, which is currently under Taliban control.
"About 40 people were killed last night due to flash floods," Saeedullah Nuristani, head of the provincial council, told AFP news agency.
He said 150 people were still missing and nearly 80 houses had been destroyed after floods swept through the area.
"According to the initial information 60 houses are destroyed and around 100 people are missing," said Samiullah Zarbi, spokesman for the State Ministry of Disaster Management.
Villagers had recovered some forty bodies, either from the water or buried beneath the rubble of their homes, Saadullah Payenda Zoy, head of the provincial council, told Reuters news agency.
Nuristan Governor Haafiz Abdul Qayum said floods swept through the village in Nuristan’s Kamdesh district on Wednesday night, completely destroying the village.— Ariana News (@ArianaNews_) July 29, 2021
Qayum said security forces have not been able to enter the area, which is currently under Taliban control.
Covid, Taliban add to challenges
Afghanistan has always struggled to provide emergency services in distant, isolated regions like Nuristan.
But, the challenges have become even more acute due to the coronavirus pandemic and mounting violence as Taliban insurgents attack government troops left fighting alone, with the last US-led foreign forces preparing to leave next month.
Taliban control or hold sway in roughly half of Afghanistan.
It's not clear how well equipped the Taliban is to deal with emergencies in areas under its control, which are mostly rural areas.