Afghan Floods and Quake Kill 15 People

By AMIR SHAH | April 25, 2013

Flash floods in northern Afghanistan killed at least 13 people, and an earthquake that struck the northeast and neighboring Pakistan on Wednesday left two people dead and 34 injured, officials said.

The flooding deaths occurred in Balkh province, where heavy rains on Tuesday sent deluges down hillsides of villages in the remote districts of Kishindih, Sholgara and Nahri Shai, said provincial police chief Shir Jan Durani. Five people were missing, many homes were damaged, and livestock drowned, he said. In its preliminary report, the U.N. said the floods also closed major roads in Balkh.

On Wednesday morning, heavy rains caused similar flash floods in Sari Pul, the neighboring province to the south, damaging more than 100 homes, said the United Nations, which was coordinating disaster relief across both areas.

The quake caused casualties in two neighboring provinces of Afghanistan that border Pakistan.

In the Hindu Kush mountains of Nangarhar province, at least one child was killed and 34 people were injured, said the provincial governor’s spokesman, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai.

In Kunar province, one person died, three were injured and dozens of houses were damaged, said Asadullah Faseli, a local health department official.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the epicenter of the magnitude-5.7 earthquake was 11 kilometers (7 miles) south of Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province. The temblor had a depth of 66 kilometers (41 miles), the geological survey said.

It was felt in Kabul, many parts of eastern Afghanistan, and as far away as Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. There were some reports of minor damage in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province.

Earthquakes are common in northeastern Afghanistan, and many occur in the Hindu Kush and broader region as a result of the collision of the India and Eurasia continental plates.

Many homes in rural Afghanistan are built of mud or stone and are easily washed away by flooding. Northern Afghanistan has experienced an unusually wet winter, with heavy snowfalls and rains. Dozens of people died of flooding last spring in northern Afghanistan.

(AP writers Thomas Wagner, Rahim Faiez and Patrick Quinn contributed.)

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