Humanitarian teams, including British charities, are urgently handing out aid to Afghans hit by the deadly landslide – as officials declare the area a burial zone.
Charities warned that more than 2,000 people are feared to have been killed after a massive landslide struck the remote north-eastern province of Badakhshan on Friday.
Health charity Merlin, which is part of Save the Children, was among the first organisations on the scene, providing crucial medical assistance to families caught up in the natural disaster.
Andrew Morris, chief of Unicef for the Northern Region of Afghanistan, said the area had been ravaged by the “exceptionally large” mudslide.
Speaking from northern Afghanistan yesterday, he said: “There is devastation...half of one village has been completely buried by the mud. The other half of the village is empty because people evacuated in case the landslide slid further.
“In another village people have moved because they are afraid of more landslides. So a little bit of chaos. And several hundred people living under tents.
“Yesterday afternoon the rescue effort stopped. The whole area has been declared a burial ground, our staff described it as in some places as deep as 50 metres of mud.
“The whole side of the mountain collapsed. Initially, after the first landslide, men from the neighbouring villages all ran to help with search and rescue. But the landslide slid further and killed all of them as well. It has left a number of children without fathers, and that is an additional tragedy.”
He said getting clean water and emergency sanitation to the area were the number one priority. Then the difficult task of rebuilding the lives of the villagers, including the many children who have lost family in the tragedy, will begin.