At least 21 people have died and scores of others have gone missing after flash floods triggered by torrential rains destroyed thousands of homes in two provinces in northern Afghanistan, officials have said.
It was reported on Sunday that the floods left thousands of people homeless on Saturday after it struck the provincial capitals of Sari Pul and Takhar.
In Sari Pul, 19 people were killed and about 60 people went missing after the floods hit. Rescuers have searched for survivors across the city, said Sayed Faizullah Sadat, the national disaster director of the city.
He also said that 1,000 houses were destroyed and 10,000 people were forced to find shelter in mosques, schools and a teacher-training center.
"Most of these families have lost their houses and all their property, their livelihoods," he said.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the water rose to 1.5 metres on Saturday during the peak of the flooding.
The office said four humanitarian assessment teams tried to get to the city on Saturday, but could not access the area.
"Most of the roads are blocked by the flooding," said Sayed Jahangir, a deputy provincial police chief.
The Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority reported that several hundred people were rescued from rooftops.
Floods also wreaked havoc across Takhar province, where at least two people were killed since Saturday.
Mustafa Rasouli, a spokesman for the province, said that "two thousand houses have been partially or completely destroyed" by the disaster.
He also said that 3,000 animals, including sheep and cows were killed, and about 1,000 hectares of farm land had been destroyed in the provincial capital of Taloqan and six other districts.
Afghanistan's harshest winter in 15 years saw unusually heavy snowfalls and experts predicted that rivers swollen by melting snow were likely to flood in the mountainous north in spring.
According to IMMAP, a data-analysis and mapping company, 15 per cent of Afghanistan's population is at high risk of being affected by floods.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|
|William A. Cook|