KABUL, Afghanistan – A landslide triggered by heavy rain buried large sections of a remote northeastern Afghan village Friday, killing at least 350 people and leaving more than 2,000 missing. Villagers looked on helplessly, and the governor appealed for shovels to help dig through the mass of mud that flattened every home in its path.
The mountainous area in Badakhshan province has experienced days of heavy rain and flooding, and the side of a cliff collapsed onto the village of Hobo Barik around midday. Landslides and avalanches are frequent in Afghanistan, but Friday's was one of the deadliest.
Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said the landslide buried some 300 homes – about a third of all the houses in the area.
Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said the U.N. was working with authorities on the ground to rescue people still trapped.
The governor said rescue crews were working but didn't have enough equipment.
“It's physically impossible right now,” Adeeb said. “We don't have enough shovels; we need more machinery.”
The landslide was likely caused by heavy rain, said Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the province's director for National Disaster Department. He said floods last week in different districts of the province killed four people.
Landslides occur frequently in the province, but they generally happen in remote areas and produce far fewer casualties, said Mohammad Usman Abu Zar from the Meteorology Department of Badakhshan province.
Badakhshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country. The area has seen few attacks from insurgents after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Afghans living in the mountains of northern Afghanistan are used to natural disasters.
A landslide in Baghlan province, also in northeastern Afghanistan, killed 71 people in 2012. After days of digging unearthed only five bodies, authorities halted the recovery effort and turned the area into a memorial for the dead.