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200 missing in Afghan floods; 24 killed
Updated: 2005-03-21 09:38

More than 200 people were missing in a former Taliban stronghold Sunday after days of torrential rain sparked floods that have killed at least 24 people in other parts of Afghanistan.

The flooding, which follows one of the harshest winters in years, has destroyed hundreds of houses in central Uruzgan province, leaving many families homeless.

Police chief Rozi Khan said 200 people were missing after the Helmand River flooded two villages in Deh Rawood district, 250 miles southwest of Kabul.

An aerial view of flooded small towns near the Deh Rawud district in the central Uruzgan province of Afghanistan March 19, 2005. [Reuters]
An aerial view of flooded small towns near the Deh Rawud district in the central Uruzgan province of Afghanistan March 19, 2005. [Reuters]
"The villages are very close to the river and all the houses have been damaged," Khan said. While no bodies have been found, "some of them must surely have been killed," he said.

The U.S. military used helicopters to lift some 200 villagers stuck on an island in the middle of the raging river on Friday.

American troops and the United Nations were distributing shovels and pickaxes as well as tents, food and blankets to survivors forced into makeshift camps or the homes of relatives.

Officials said Saturday that 24 people were confirmed dead because of floods in other parts of the country.

Authorities braced for more serious flooding as rainstorms and warmer weather melt deep snow after the harsh winter. More than 300 people reportedly died from exposure and cold-related illnesses such as pneumonia and whooping cough this year.

In the far northeast, police said a house drenched by rain had collapsed south of Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan province, on Saturday, killing one man and injuring nine others.

More than 100 houses also were destroyed in western Farah province, the United Nations said Sunday.

It was unclear whether the wet weather also caused a landslide Thursday that an official said killed five men prospecting for gemstones in northern Afghanistan.

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