Survivors: We want corpses, not food
FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): The government has stopped digging and rescue efforts to look for hundreds of people believed died after a massive mudslide buried their houses in northeastern Badakhshan province, but their relatives continued searching for the bodies on Monday.
The landslide buried about 2500 people in Argo district on May 2, displacing around 700 families, local officials say.
The governor of Badakhshan said 2,500 people might have been killed, but the Argo district chief, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance and a number of other sources put the death toll between 300 and 500.
The search for survivors formally ended on Saturday as mechanical diggers left the village without being used because the site was inaccessible.
But a Pajhwok reporter, who visited the site, said men and women were still searching for corpses of their relatives. They criticised the government for failing to recover the dead bodies in four days.
The reporter saw a group of women using shovels and picks in search of bodies of their relatives while crying in hopelessness.
“My brother is under the debris. We don’t want water or food, we want the bodies of our relatives,” Marzia, 40, one of the women, said.
Gul Rahim, who lost five of his family members to the mudslide, was busy searching for corpses along with several other men. He said they would try their best to retrieve bodies of their relatives.
Deputy Governor Gul Mohammad Baidar said they would hire 400 labourers tomorrow to dig the site.
First-Vice President Mohammad Younus Qanoni, who visited the site late on Sunday, said Argo was a remote area having no proper roads, thus the government’s inability to discover the corpses.
He said they had contacted ISAF forces, but they said their machinery was heavy and could not be taken the inaccessible site.
The VP promised the government was ready to support the victims by providing them with shelter, food and medicine.
Two dead bodies of women have been pulled out from the debris and a 10-year-old boy was recovered alive three hours after the landslide struck, but hopes for more corpses or survivors are increasingly vanishing.
A local official said all efforts at recovering the bodies had been useless and declaring the site as a mass grave was being considered.
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