At least 50 dead after flash flooding in northern Afghanistan – The Guardian

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At least 50 people, mainly women and children, have been killed in flash flooding in the northern Afghanistan province of Baghlan.

The number was confirmed by Hedayatullah Hamdard, the head of the provincial natural disaster management department, who said it could increase in the coming days.

Emergency personnel are still “searching for any possible victims under the mud and rubble, with the help of security forces from the national army and police”, he said.

Heavy seasonal rain sparked the flooding and residents were unprepared for the sudden rush of water, he said, adding: “The weather is very gloomy right now and might pour down again”.

Dozens of tents, blankets, and food have been provided to those who lost their homes, the official said.

Video footage on social media showed huge torrents of muddy water swamping roads – and bodies shrouded in white and black cloth.

In one clip, children are crying and a group of men are looking at floodwaters, in which bits of broken wood and debris from homes can be seen.

Since mid-April, flooding has killed about 100 people in 10 of Afghanistan’s provinces, with no region spared, according to authorities.

Farmland has been swamped in a country where 80% of the more than 40 million people depend on agriculture to survive.

Afghanistan – which had a relatively dry winter, making it more difficult for the soil to absorb rainfall – is vulnerable to the climate crisis.

Ravaged by four decades of war, it is one of the poorest countries in the world and, according to scientists, one of the least prepared to face the consequences of global warming.

Afghanistan is responsible for only 0.06% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but ranks sixth on the list of countries most at risk from the climate crisis, experts say.

Half of its population lives under the poverty line, and 15 million people are experiencing food insecurity, according to the World Bank.

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