4 May 2014

Afghan landslide left as a mass grave

10:28 pm on 4 May 2014

The Afghan government has declared a day of national mourning for thousands of people killed when a mudslide engulfed their village on Friday.

Badakhshan provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib said there was now no hope for more than 2000 people believed buried in their homes.

An Afghan girl holds her sister at landslide which turned 300 homes into a mass grave for over 2000 people.

An Afghan girl holds her sister at landslide which turned 300 homes into a mass grave for over 2000 people. Photo: AFP

Officials formally ended the search for survivors on Saturday.

Mechanical diggers had left Ab Barik village without being used because the site was inaccessible.

The village is to be left as a mass graveyard.

"Based on our reports, 300 houses are under the debris," the provincial governor said.

The side of the mountain above Abi-Barak collapsed at around 11am on Friday as people were trying to gather belongings and livestock after a smaller landslip hit a few hours earlier.

Many villagers were at Friday prayers in two mosques when they were entombed.

The desolation in Badakhshan province.

The desolation in Badakhshan province. Photo: AFP

The second landslide hit people who had gathered to assist them - as many 600 more people may have been killed in this slip.

The landslides were triggered by torrential rain.

Rudimentary efforts by locals to dig into the soft mud with shovels were quickly abandoned.

Correspondents say they have demanded that government officials resettle them elsewhere because they do not want to return to the village where so many lie buried.

"We cannot continue the search and rescue operation any more, as the houses are under metres of mud," Mr Adib said.

"The scale of this landslide is absolutely devastating, with an entire village practically wiped away," said Richard Danziger, from the International Organisation for Migration, which is providing aid to the village.

"Hundreds of families have lost everything and are in immense need of assistance."

One survivor, Zia ul-Haq, told reporters: "My family, including my child and all my belongings are buried here."

In Kabul, President Hamid Karzai announced a national day of mourning on Sunday.

Badakhshan borders Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.