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70 killed by heavy rains in Afghanistan

AFP – Around 70 people have been killed by heavy rains lashing Afghanistan over the past five days, the government’s disaster management department said.

Afghanistan was parched by an unusually dry winter which desiccated the earth, exacerbating flash-flooding caused by spring downpours in most provinces. 

Disaster management spokesman Janan Sayeq said “approximately 70 people lost their lives” as a result of rains between Saturday and Wednesday.

Fifty-six others have been injured, he said, while more than 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 95,000 acres of farmland wiped away.

Giving a smaller death toll last week, Sayeq said most fatalities at that point had been caused by roof collapses resulting from the deluges.

Neighbouring Pakistan has also been hammered by spring downpours, with 65 people killed in storm-related incidents as rain falls at nearly twice the historical average rate.

The United Nations last year warned that “Afghanistan is experiencing major swings in extreme weather conditions”.

After four decades of war the country ranks among the nations least prepared to face extreme weather events, which scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.

At least 25 people were killed in a landslide after massive snowfall in eastern Afghanistan in February, while around 60 were killed in a three-week spate of precipitation ending in March.

Afghan men sit atop of military vehicles as they cross through a flooded area in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. PHOTO: AFP
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