10 dead, hundreds of houses destroyed in Afghan landslide

There were shouts that there was a flood, then people started to run away. (Shutterstock)
Updated 12 July 2018
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10 dead, hundreds of houses destroyed in Afghan landslide

  • At least 10 people killed, hundreds of homes destroyed in Afghanistan after melting snow triggers landslide
  • A mountain lake overflowed and sent water and mud cascading over Peshghor village

KABUL: At least 10 people were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed in a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan after melting snow triggered a landslide, officials said Thursday.
A mountain lake in Panjshir, a province north of Kabul known for its snowcapped peaks, overflowed and sent water and mud cascading over Peshghor village, Omar Mohammadi, spokesman for the disaster management ministry, told AFP.
Jamil Ahmad was lying in bed just before midnight when he said he heard a sound like “jets” flying overhead.
“Somebody shouted ‘Flood!’ and I ran away with my family to higher ground,” Ahmad told AFP by telephone.
“The people started firing (weapons) into the air to warn others about the flood.”
The water and mud had inundated most of the houses in the village, and destroyed a religious school, two mosques and the main market, Ahmad said.
“Three women from my neighborhood and two laborers who didn’t hear the warning were taken away by the flood,” Ahmad said.
Villagers had been worried about the possibility of landslides after several days of increasingly warm weather, Ahmad said.
Most survivors were staying on higher ground for fear of more, he added.
Photos posted on social media purportedly showed houses and farmland covered in water and mud after the Panjshir River broke its banks.
Villagers using shovels and other tools were desperately searching for survivors in the debris as rescue teams were deployed to the area, Mohammadi said.
“We have deployed everything at hand to help the people,” he said. “Some people are missing.”
Disasters such as avalanches and flash floods often hit in mountainous areas of Afghanistan as snow melts in the spring and summer. It is made worse by deforestation.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is in Brussels for the NATO summit, said he was “deeply saddened” by the latest natural disaster.
“A number of people have lost their lives” in the landslide, Ghani said in a statement.
He ordered “relevant authorities to provide urgent assistance to the affected people.”
The landslide comes as the country is in the grip of a nearly 17-year war between Afghan security forces and the Taliban.


Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

Updated 17 February 2019
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Acting Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding US-Mexico border wall

  • President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval
  • Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the US-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.
According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.
“We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates,” Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.
“Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions,” Shanahan said.
He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.
Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.
The US defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.
Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.
“I am not required to do anything,” he said.
Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.
Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.
“Military housing, what’s been interesting- I’ve received a number of letters, I’ve had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway,” Shanahan said.
“As we step our way through the process, we’ll use good judgment,” Shanahan said.
The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.
Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.
“We are following the law, using the rules and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.