KABUL, Afghanistan – The Afghan government on Sunday called for urgent humanitarian assistance for remote, flood-hit villages in western Afghanistan, as the death toll climbed to 55. More than 100 people were missing.
Relief teams and supplies traveling by donkey and horse trickled into mountainous Badghis province, while trucks carrying some 32 tons of aid were blocked by muddy, impassable roads, said Habibullah Murghabi, the head of a government-appointed emergency disaster committee.
"Those districts need urgent help from the international community, otherwise there will be a humanitarian crisis," Murghabi said by telephone from Badghis.
Murghabi said that the government has been unable to contact two remote villages — home to mostly nomads living in tents — believed to be badly affected.
Two NATO helicopters delivered 17,600 pounds of food and medicine to Badghis. About a dozen doctors and medical workers traveled by donkey and horse to villages in the hard-hit Balamurghab district.
Badghis governor Mohammad Nasim Tukhi said that the floods left 47 dead in Balamurghab and eight in Ghormach, including several children. The estimates for the missing range from 100 to 160.
Murghabi said eight bodies were found in Balamurghab and six near the Turkmenistan border, but it was not clear if those dead were included in figures from the provincial governor.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said that initial reports indicate that 4,500 people have been affected by the flooding — 500 to 1,000 people in Ghormach and 3,400 in Balamurghab, said UNAMA spokesman Dan McNorton.
He said the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF, is sending 4.4 tons of assistance to the region, while the U.N. World Food Program is delivering 32 tons of food.
Heavy rain on Thursday triggered flash floods that inundated several villages in Badghis. Some 50,000 families live in the flood-affected area.