Flooding kills 150 in northeastern Afghanistan

Flash flooding killed 150 people in a remote area in Afghanistan’s mountainous northeastern Nuristan province controlled by the Taliban, a spokesman for the insurgents said Thursday. The provincial government appealed to the Taliban to allow rescue teams into the area to help. Talks are being held to try to let rescue teams enter the area which is hard to reach in normal times.

Children and women are said to be among the victims in Kamdesh, with at least 60 people dead and dozens more missing, and many homes destroyed. Afghan officials gave a death toll of 60 but the Taliban say 150 people died in the flooding. The disaster zone is held by Taliban militants fighting the government. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said heavy rains late Wednesday caused the flash flooding. In a statement, Mujahid said the insurgents ordered their own rescue crews to the affected area. He also said the Taliban have also ordered that 5 million Afghanis — or about $62,000 — be spent aiding the cleanup and the villagers affected by the flooding. However, it is unclear how equipped the Taliban are to deal with emergencies in areas under their control, which are mostly rural areas. Flash floods happen when rain falls so heavily that normal drainage cannot cope. Torrential rain and flooding kill people every year in Afghanistan, where badly built houses in isolated rural areas are particularly vulnerable.