12 dead as Badakhshan buckles under avalanches and severe weather

Several avalanches in the last four days have left at least 12 people dead in northern Badakhshan province in Afghanistan. 

According to the Taliban-run disaster management directorate, a further 12 people have been injured in the incidents.

The continuous snowfall in a number of provinces of Afghanistan has caused enormous difficulties for the people but Badakhshan, with its 28 districts, has been particularly hard hit. 

In the past few days, it has witnessed heavy rain, snowfall and avalanches, resulting in the closure of roads between the center and districts of the province.

Districts especially hard hit this year have been Sheghnan, Ishkashim, Darwaz, Raghistan, Yawan, and Wakhan.

For residents, conditions have deteriorated dramatically in the past week as electricity supplies have been cut and with road closures, there is now a shortage of food at some markets.

Khodadad, a 25-year-old man who recently graduated from university, was one avalanche victim. He died in Sheghnan district of the province after being trapped in his fuel tanker. 

Enayatullah, the director of internal security of the Taliban’s police command in Sheghnan, informed the provincial capital in a phone message about the incident.

He also said that another two people drowned in their vehicle in Panch river, while a third was rescued. 

A relative of Khodadad said: “Khodadad was one of the intelligent people in Sheghnan and always tried to serve the people. He always said that one day he will be killed in an explosion. But he was buried under the snowwith his dreams forever.”

According to reports, another driver named Arif was also trapped in his vehicle in an avalanche, and so far, rescue workers have not been able to recover his body.

Mohammad Akram Akbari, the head of the Taliban’s disaster management in Badakhshan also stated that 12 people – including women and children – have been killed in avalanches in Kohistan, Raghistan, Yavan, Sheghnan, Draim, Yiftal Payan, and Kuf Ab districts.

According to Akbar, 12 people were also injured and 50 houses were completely destroyed in the incidents.

Ramesh, a resident of Ishkashim, told an Amu reporter by phone: “It has been two weeks since the rain started and it has been heavy and it has increased our problems. Our water and electricity have been cut off due to heavy rains, and we have to walk in the snow for hours to fetch water.”

Ghulam Mohammad, who tried to get home to Darwaz in Badakhshan from Kabul said: “I went to Kabul for treatment a few months ago. But yesterday I left Kabul for home. We went halfway then had problems. But then we returned to [the provincial capital] Faizabad due to the avalanches.”

Hashmatullah, another resident of Badakhshan, said: “Sheghnan received nearly one meter of snow, and people cannot leave their houses. The price of food items surged, the electricity poles are damaged and no attention is being paid to us.”

Shahpoor, a shopkeeper in Sheghnan, has raised his voice over the shortage of food in the district.

“Because it is winter and the roads are closed. Our goods do not arrive on time and sometimes we cannot find food in the markets; when goods arrive here, with great difficulty, the prices are high and there is not enough for everyone,” he added.For these Badakhshan residents, it appears that the bad weather could last at least another day as the Afghanistan Meteorological Department on Saturday forecast continued rain and snowfall into Sunday and possibly Monday, before starting to clear Tuesday.