Rescue operations for missing 145 Badakhshan villagers underway
KABUL (PAN): Relief workers stepped up search operations for 145 villagers, many believed dead, after the massive avalanche in northern Badakhshan province last week, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan said on Saturday.
In a statement, Michael Keating expressed his sympathy to the families of 50 dead Afghans and four others injured in the March 4 avalanche that buried an entire village of 199 people in the Shaki district.
“The humanitarian community including the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement are focusing on the search and recovery of the villagers that remain missing, presumed dead,” he said, adding access to the Dispay village was possible only by road from neighboring Tajikistan.
However, he added, relief efforts were severely hampered by snow-blocked roads and helicopter access was not possible as there was a high risk of triggering further avalanches.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), an affiliate of the Agha Khan Development Network (AKDN), has sent a team from Tajikistan to support the search and rescue operations in neighboring villagers.
Health, food and temporary shelter supplies provided by international agencies such as WHO, WFP, MAIL and IOM had been put in place in Shaki district to address urgent needs.
“This tragedy is likely to be one of many in the near future. Heavy snows will result not just in avalanches but also, in a few weeks' time, severe flooding in many parts of the country,” said Keating.
“Every effort is being made to minimize loss of life through emergency preparedness such as prepositioning of food, shelter and medicine, good information sharing and coordination among those actors able to respond.”
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