Little Chance of Survivors in Afghanistan Landslide That Killed Up To 2,700 People

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 3 2014 5:01 PM

Little Chance of Survivors in Afghanistan Landslide That Killed Up To 2,700 People

487937243-an-afghan-villager-prays-at-the-scene-in-argo-district
An Afghan villager prays at the scene in Argo district of Badakhshan province on May 3, 2014 after a massive landslide on May 2 buried a village

Photo by SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Rescue workers in Afghanistan have given up hope of finding any survivors in a double landslide that could have killed more than 2,500 people. “Officials here say it is very unlikely any of the bodies will be found,” reports the BBC’s David Lyon. “People have now given up the search because they realize it is hopeless.” The landslide struck at around noon on Friday in the northern province of Badakhshan and officials say at least 350 people were instantly killed. Most of those confirmed killed were people who rushed to the scene to help rescue those who were affected by the first, smaller landslide, details the Associated Press. The remote location of the village has made it difficult to get heavy machinery to the site to help the rescue efforts.

The exact number of dead is far from clear and may not ever be known. Although some estimates put the number of dead as high as 2,700, some provincial officials say that figure was likely too high, reports the Washington Post. “With the village buried under as much as 200 feet of mud at the deepest points, it may be impossible to ever recover many bodies,” notes the New York Times.

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Officials say entire areas of the village of Abi Barak have now become mass graves as aid began to arrive for the more than 4,000 people who have been displaced by the landslide, details the Wall Street Journal. "The question now is what to do with the people whose homes were destroyed or with those who will move because of fears another hillside will collapse," said Richard Danziger, the head of the International Organization for Migration mission in Afghanistan.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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