Flash floods kill 26 at Afghan wedding

May 7, 2012

Agence France-Presse, 05/07/2012 13:07 GMT

Kabul, May 7, 2012 (AFP) – At least 26 people were killed and more than 100 missing after flash floods hit a wedding party and three villages in northern Afghanistan, an official said Monday.

Most of the victims were women and children as the floods, caused by heavy rains, swept through areas of Deh Mardan district in Sari Pul province, said Fazlullah Sadat, head of the provincial disaster management authority.

“We have found 26 bodies mostly women and children — and more than 100 others are still missing,” he told AFP.

Wedding parties are traditionally large and joyous occasions in rural Afghanistan, but 21 people from one gathering were among the victims, he said.

“This is a human tragedy. We have a lot of human losses,” said Sadat.

Rescue teams had been dispatched to search for the missing, he added, and the floods also swept away livestock and swamped agricultural lands.

The defence ministry had dispatched two helicopters to flood-hit areas, he said, and disaster management teams assisted by the UN’s World Food Programme were at the scene, distributing food, blankets and tents.

Afghanistan’s harshest winter in 15 years saw unusually heavy snowfalls, and experts predicted melting snow was likely to cause floods in the mountainous north in the spring.

In March, the UN humanitarian office for Afghanistan said at least 145 people were missing and “presumed dead” after an avalanche hit a remote village in northeastern Badakhshan province.

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