|More than 2,100 confirmed dead in Afghan landslide||
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan officials gave up hope on Saturday of finding any survivors from a landslide in the remote northeast, putting the death toll at more than 2,100, as rescuers turned their attention to helping the over 4,000 people displaced.
Officials expressed concern the unstable hillside above the site of the disaster may cave in again, threatening the homeless as well as the UN and local rescue teams that have arrived in Badakhshan province, which borders Tajikistan.
"More than 2,100 people from 300 families are all dead," Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial governor, told Reuters.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed sympathy with the Afghan people and government over the tragic incident.
In the message to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, Rouhani expressed condolences to the Afghan government and nation and prayed for immediate recovery of those injured in the tragedy.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also offered condolences to Afghanistan over the incident.
In a statement released on Saturday, Marzieh Afkham expressed Iran’s sympathy for neighboring Afghanistan’s government and nation and survivors of the tragic incident.
The side of the mountain above Ab Barak collapsed at around 11 a.m. (0630 GMT) on Friday as people were trying to recover belongings and livestock after a smaller landslip hit a few hours earlier.
Hundreds of homes were destroyed in the landslides that were triggered by torrential rain. Officials worry another section of the mountainside could collapse at any time.
The Afghan military flew rescue teams to the area on Saturday, as the remote mountain region is served by only narrow, poor roads which have themselves been damaged by more than a week of heavy rain.
"We have managed to get one excavator into the area, but digging looks hopeless," Colonel Abdul Qadeer Sayad, a deputy police chief of Badakhshan, told Reuters.
He said the sheer size of the area affected, and the depth of the mud, meant that only modern machinery could help.
"I call on the government to come and help our people, to take the bodies out," said a middle-aged man, standing on a hill overlooking the river of mud where his village once stood.
"We managed to take out only 10-15 people, the rest of our villagers here are trapped."
Hundreds of people camped out overnight in near freezing conditions, although some were given tents. Officials distributed food and water.
At least 100 people were being treated for injuries, most of them by medics who set up facilities in a stable building.
Seasonal rains and spring snow melt have caused devastation across large swathes of northern Afghanistan, killing more than 100 people before this latest disaster.
Police said they had provided a security ring around the area, which has been relatively free of insurgent attacks. The Taliban said in a statement they were also willing to provide security.
Villagers and a few dozen police, equipped with only basic digging tools, resumed their search when daylight broke but it soon became clear there was no hope of finding survivors buried in up to 100 meters of mud.
"Seven members of my family were here, four or five of them were killed ... I am also half alive, what can I do?" said an elderly woman, her hair covered in a pink shawl.
The UN mission in Afghanistan said the focus was now on the more than 4,000 people displaced, either directly as a result of Friday's landslide or as a precautionary measure from villages assessed to be at risk.
The impoverished area, dotted with villages of mud-brick homes nestled in valleys beside bare slopes, has been hit by several landslides in recent years.
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