‘They drowned together’: Lives swept away by Afghanistan floods – KPVI News 6

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Jawed’s whole life was ripped away when flash floods tore through Afghanistan’s Baghlan province, drowning every member of his family except a young son who clung to a tree above the churning mud.

Only Jawed, 38, and his nine-year-old son — his eldest — survived the flooding that carried away his wife and four other young children, some of the hundreds who died in Baghlan from the flooding that devastated the province Friday, according to the United Nations.

At work when he heard of the surging waters, Jawed tried to race home but found the roads impassable. 

When he finally reached his house, he saw only the stoop remained. 

“There was nothing left. My whole house and life had been washed away,” Jawed told AFP.

His family’s bodies had been strewn across the area, carried by the force of the rushing water. 

“They were all washed away,” he repeated, weeping over the phone from Pul-e Khumri, the provincial capital.

He found his wife, two sons and two daughters one by one, searching through the mud and debris, their bodies now wrapped in white sheets and laid out next to each other, ready for burial.  

“One of my children, a baby, was in his mother’s arms. They drowned together,” Jawed said.

“My life sank, I was ruined, I don’t want anything from this life anymore.” 

Fresh graves were dug in communities across Baghlan, the province hardest hit by flooding that impacted multiple provinces. 

In Baghlan-e-Markazi district, people prayed next to their relatives’ graves under a stormy sky on the same hill where women and children had fled to higher ground during the deluge. 

Some residents gathered on the hillsides overlooking their swamped homes and land. 

Others tried to clear debris from buildings, wading ankle deep in mud to shovel thick layers out of their homes marked with brown stains showing the water had climbed high up the walls. 

– ‘Completely dark’ –

In Pul-e Khumri, a government employee who did not want to use his real name, going by Burhanudin, said most of the more than 1,000 homes in his area had been devastated. 

“The walls of our house were destroyed, our water wells were swamped and our area is damaged,” he told AFP. 

He and his eight family members survived, having quickly fled their home when it started to rain heavily.  

But, he added, “my house, my neighbour’s house, shops, they are all damaged”. 

Before the rains came down on Friday afternoon in Pul-e Khumri, Lailoma was putting her baby to sleep when the sky went “completely dark”.

“I thought it was a solar eclipse,” she said.

She shuttered her home against the rain but realising the storm was too strong, she grabbed her children and ran “with tears in (her) eyes”.

All of her seven children survived, but she lost everything she owned and her home was “washed away”.

“I was very poor. I had a cow and I used to sell its milk and feed my children, but the cow was carried away,” said the 36-year-old, whose husband is unemployed. 

“Since yesterday I haven’t had anything to eat,” she said.

“I gave only bread and water to my children, I don’t know what to do.”

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