Salang disaster: Family of five among 87 killed

Mohammad Hanif Nashir, head of the department for the distribution of electronic ID cards and a resident of Mama Khel village in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province, along with his wife and three children, perished in Saturday’s inferno in the Salang Tunnel.

Three sources told Amu that at least 87 people died and 86 others were wounded in the inferno.

“My brother Hanif came [to Kunduz] several days ago to participate in my father’s death anniversary. He was recently appointed to the Department of Statistics; therefore, on Friday afternoon, he and his wife, and his three children traveled back to Kabul. I was in contact with him until 8:00 PM, and the last time I called him, he told me that they were at the Doshakh-e-Salang area, there is a traffic jam; After a few minutes, the road opened and they left,” Nashir’s brother Haji Arif said.

“Yesterday afternoon, the flames subsided, the equipped firefighters came from Kabul, they entered the tunnel and extinguished the vehicles [on fire] and one by one pulled them out, and we waited until 11 at night in front of the tunnel, while they pulled out the car that my brother with his family was in. My brother, his wife, and his three children perished,” he added.

Overwhelmed with grief, Arif added that his brother’s vehicle was alongside a truck carrying coal when the oil tanker in front of them exploded; the truck overturned on their car, and rocks from the roof of the tunnel also collapsed on them. There was nothing left of my brother except his leg bone, they were turned into ash and they suffered a lot.”

Arif said that one boot belonging to Nashir’s daughter and parts of her leg remained inside the shoe, “and one boot from his baby boy; below the knee, leg bones, boots, hat and jumper of his younger son, and from his wife nothing was left.”

“ Nashir’s brother-in-law who was the driver of the car, saw the tanker was leaking and he stopped the truck and informed the driver, suddenly, there were flames which erupted in their car, while Nashir’s wife and three children were inside,” he said.

His brother-in-law got out of the car and ran towards the exit of the tunnel with a truck driver and saved themselves. My brother also escaped halfway but went back for his wife and children. Unfortunately, neither he, nor his wife, nor his children were saved,” Arif said.

“When we entered [the tunnel], there was no one else there looking for their relatives. There were a lot of people and no car survived in the tunnel, only two fuel trucks were at the entrance of the tunnel but were also burned and turned black, but they were a little intact. Nothing inside the tunnel, neither people nor anything else is left intact, everything was turned into ashes,” he added.

Arif said Nashir’s brother-in-law is currently in hospital in Kunduz. “He inhaled too much smoke and he can’t speak now. He was in a good condition before and used to talk and told us what happened. But now, he cannot speak due to inhaling too much smoke.”

Dozens of people died in the Salang tragedy. Hanif’s relatives said that only the driver from his vehicle survived, the rest of the passengers including Hanif, his wife, his 5-year-old and 7-year-old sons, and his 9-year-old daughter all died in the incident.

The Taliban’s national information and statistics department has also confirmed that Mohammad Hanif Nashir, the head of the electronic ID card department, and his children were among the victims of the incident.