Floods in Afghanistan: “I Found My Family’s Bodies on the Street” - Latest Global News

Floods in Afghanistan: “I Found My Family’s Bodies on the Street”

The day after the flood, Noor Mohammed found his family’s bodies on the road and in the fields.

The 75-year-old was just 100 meters from his home in northern Afghanistan when he heard the deadly rush of approaching water.

Noor ran towards the house where his wife, sister, son and two of his grandchildren were resting.

But it was too late.

The sudden flood of water swept away his family and home.

Noor Mohammed sits in front of a wall in a brick building

Noor Mohammed lost his wife, sister, son and two grandchildren when the flood struck [BBC]

Flash flooding occurred Friday, caused by a combination of unusually severe storms following a dry winter that left the ground too hard to absorb all the rain. The destruction stretches for miles.

According to the World Food Program, more than 300 people died and 2,000 homes were destroyed in the flood that affected five districts in northern Afghanistan’s Baghlan province. The number of victims is expected to rise.

The provinces of Badakhshan, Ghor and western Herat were also heavily damaged.

“I felt helpless,” says Noor.

It was early evening when he frantically searched the surroundings of his house in Gaz village in Baghlan but could find no trace of his family.

He gave up at 1 a.m. and walked in the middle of the night to his daughter Saeeda’s house, three hours away.

The next day he returned home and found his family’s bodies.

“It was devastating,” he says.

MapMap

[BBC]

Noor says he has never experienced anything like this in his life – neither from the natural disasters that frequently strike the area nor from the civil wars that have plagued the country.

Saeeda, whose 25-year-old daughter was one of Noor’s deceased grandchildren, said the approaching storm sounded like a monster and they were scared.

In Noor’s village, which is still inaccessible by road, most families have lost at least two or three relatives to the floods and are in urgent need of help.

“We traveled to areas where everything has completely disappeared,” said Rouzatullah, a nurse who visited one of the worst-hit villages, Fullol, with his team.

A family sits in front of the remains of a buildingA family sits in front of the remains of a building

The floods left many survivors with little or no shelter or possessions [Getty Images]

Uprooted trees, stones, bricks and mangled cars stick out of the thick mud in Fullol. Once sticky with water, it began to harden in the heat, making it even more difficult for those still digging and retrieving their possessions.

Muhammad Gul digs through the two rooms of his house with a shovel.

“We don’t even have a glass left for a cup of tea, there’s nothing,” he tells the BBC. The only thing he managed to save is a twisted bicycle, which he loads onto a donkey.

Days after the flood, some families are still searching for the bodies of their loved ones. A crowd gathers at a house. A girl’s body was found; She is wrapped in a sheet and taken away by an ambulance.

Rouzatullah rushed to the area along with 15 other nurses, paramedics and doctors.

He says they helped more than 200 injured people, including a man who lost 16 family members.

However, they were unable to reach some remote areas where people urgently need help.

“There is no drinking water,” says Rouzatullah, warning that water-borne diseases such as typhoid and dysentery could break out.

Women after the funeralWomen after the funeral

These women had been at a funeral, one of many taking place in the area [BBC]

In the areas they were able to reach, the team has started setting up mobile relief centers and is working to dispose of the bodies.

In each village the BBC is confronted with a different story of loss.

A man shows us a picture of his five-year-old nephew, Abu Bakar. He was playing with his grandfather when the water came in. As they tried to escape, Abu Bakar was swept away. In an attempt to save himself, he had held on to his grandfather’s leg so tightly that it left marks. His mother could only watch as he lost his footing.

Abdul Khaliq was out of town when he heard about the flood. When he returned, all that was left of his family’s home was a small piece of bathroom wall. The rest is now flattened. Of the 18 people, 10 of his family died and were washed away.

“We were looking for family members in the knee-deep mud, so we took off our shoes and continued the search,” he says. “We ended up finding their bodies miles from here.”

Abdul KhaliqAbdul Khaliq

Abdul Khaliq, where his home once stood [BBC]

Others tell of the moment when the catastrophe happened – there was a cry for water to come. Some managed to avoid him, but lost everything they owned.

“Amidst the chaos, I struggled to reach the next floor. Our house and all our livestock were washed away,” says Zuhra Bibi, who is now sleeping in a tarpaulin tent.

She says she has never seen anything like this in her life. Floods are not uncommon, but in 20, 40, 60 years, we are told, no one in their area has experienced such flooding.

In the village of Gudan Bala, Mohammad Rasool stands chain-smoking next to a field where his crops were once grown. Now the field is a puddle of thick, muddy water.

Hectares of farmland – cotton and wheat fields – were completely destroyed. We drive through wheat fields that have been cut in two by the force of the water, ripping out the green stalks and leaving behind gray rubble.

Mohammad Rasool stands in front of a field of crops covered in muddy brown waterMohammad Rasool stands in front of a field of crops covered in muddy brown water

Mohammad Rasool stands in front of the remains of his house and the harvest that was supposed to feed his family [BBC]

Mohammad is glad his family survived, but says he has lost everything else.

He shows me the fields where his crops were ruined.

“It was the only source of income I had,” he says. “I feel helpless.”

Like 80% of Afghans, he relies on agriculture for his income. Mohammad says he is not sure how they will survive.

He points to the remains of his house in the distance. He can’t return because the floodwaters are still too high.

“I have nothing now, what should I do? I have to provide for my family, but I have nothing.”

Even before the floods, the United Nations estimated that about 24 million people, more than half of Afghanistan’s population, would need some form of humanitarian assistance this year.

Not only crops are affected. Mohammed says his neighbor lost his two cows in the floods. They were the man’s only way to earn a living.

And Noor, who lives with his daughter, says the only possession he has left is the clothes he wears. He had lived in the house that was washed away since he was a child – his father had built it 65 years ago.

“I had hopes for the future,” he says. “My son and granddaughter were teachers and I was proud because they contributed to the future of the country.”

Both are now dead. “The floods took away everything,” he says.

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