Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task, however, some men continued to dig about above where there homes had once been. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
The search for survivors in the Argo district was hampered by poor weather and insufficient tools, May 3, 2014.  Andrew Quilty—Oculi for TIME

Over 2,100 Reportedly Dead in Afghanistan Landslide

May 03, 2014

The death toll of a catastrophic landslide in a remote part of Afghanistan reportedly rose to at least 2,100 on Saturday, after a rescue effort slowed by lack of equipment and bad conditions.

Rescuers called off a search in the mountainous Argo district of the northeastern state of Badakhshan after over 2,000 villagers were buried under hundreds of feet of mud, Reuters reports, and turned their attention to the estimated 4,000 displaced by the disaster.

"More than 2,100 people from 300 families are all dead," Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for Badakhshan's provincial governor, told Reuters.

Two consecutive landslides took place on Friday morning after the area had been pummeled by heavy rains all week, according to the United Nations. The organization said that in addition to the mounting loss of life, the landslide had caused widespread damage to property and agriculture in the district. Badakhshan, a mountainous province in the far northeast of the country, borders Tajikistan, China and Pakistan.

Local officials had warned that the search for survivors and bodies would be slow, given the lack of equipment on hand in the far-flung district. Rescuers themselves faced a third potential landslide as they set to manually trying dig through the some 330 feet of mud.

With scores assumed dead, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan was said to have shifted its attention to at least 4,000 people forced to leave their homes, either directly due to Friday's landslide or as a precautionary measure against future landslides.

The operation will test the capacity of Afghan security forces, which were deployed to the area to assist on Friday, according to reports. President Hamid Karzai, who is set to step down in the next few months once a new government is formed, said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened," and that he had "ordered relevant entities to provide immediate assistance to people affected by the natural disaster and to urgently rescue those who are trapped under the debris."

President Barack Obama, offering his condolences to the victims and their families during a press conference on Friday, said the U.S. was ready to help if requested. “Even as our war there comes to an end this year, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people will endure,” Obama said. "We stand ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster."

The disaster follows close on the heels of deadly flash floods in northern Afghanistan that left over 100 dead and displaced thousands more. “On behalf of the UN humanitarian agencies, I wish to extend our condolences to all those families who have lost loved ones as a result of these landslides,” Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, said in a UN news release. “There have now been more Afghans killed through natural disasters in the past seven days than all of 2013.”

Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task, however, some men continued to dig about above where there homes had once been. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
The search for survivors in the Argo district was hampered by poor weather and insufficient tools, May 3, 2014.Andrew Quilty—Oculi for TIME
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task, however, some men continued to dig about above where there homes had once been. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. Men from the village look over the site of the landslide from a mound of mud that made it's way up the adjacent side of the valley. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. A young man carries a shovel as many others did but few used them - the task beyond hope. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. Men gathered to offer prayers on the mountains of mud that buried many of their firends and relatives. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. A group of women and a young girl mourn for their family members who were killed in yesterday's tragedy. The women sat, wailing on the mountains of mud above their homes buried below. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. With the landslide in the background, men look to the sky as an Afghan National Army helicopter carrying Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents flies over the disaster. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. Men and boys - some carrying shovels - walk over mountains of dirt after visiting Argo district on foot from a nearby village to see if they could help in the rescue effort. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents arrived at Faizabad airport on Military aircraft and was greeted by local dignitaries on the runway before flying by helicopter to the site of the landslide in Argo district. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Men gathered at the end of the day at a point where local officials delivered news of assistance and where the World Food Program provided food and water. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Approximately 24 hours after 2 landslides buried over 2000 residents of Argo district in the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Today - Saturday - rescuers called off a search for survivors due to a lack of heavy machinery required for the massive task. Mohammad Karim Khalili, one of Afghanistan’s two Vice Presidents along with a handful of ministers travelled from Kabul to pay their respects at the site of the landslide today. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME. A man and young boy helped a distraught, elderly lady along on the back of a donkey. Saturday 3 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. A man demolishes what remained of his home after friday's landslide. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Security was increased today with visits by Batur Dostum, the son of General Abdul Rashid Dostum and the first of two Afghan Vice Presidents, Mohammad Youns Qanooni on a day that was declared a national day of mourning by President Hamid Karzai. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Aid deliveries arrived in greater quantities today with contributions such as bags of wheat from USAID. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Crowds of men became difficult for those distributing aid provisions to control today. On several occasions police intervened to disperse the converging masses. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. 28 year old parlimentarian and former Afghan TV show host Baktash Siawash visited the devastated viallage today and attempted to hand out single 1000 Afghani bills (approx $US20) from several wads that his assistants carried, until he became angered by the behaviour of the crowd and left with hundreds of men, women and children giving chase. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. 28 year old parlimentarian and former Afghan TV show host Baktash Siawash visited the devastated viallage today and after attempting to hand out 1000 Afghani bills (approx $US20) from several wads that his assistants carried, walked off refusing to continue because of the unruly crowd. Siawash, walked down the hill, climbed up the opposite one and was chased by hundreds of villagers. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
Two days after two landslides buried an estimated 2000 residents of Aab Barik in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. A young girl walks from her temporary tent home on the ridge beyond while a young boy heards goats across the side of a hill close to the central aid distribution point in the village. Sunday 4 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
A boy runs with a container to fill up at a water tank, May 5, 2014.
2 days after 2 landslides buried Boys and men watch as aid is distributed, May 5, 2014. estimated 2000 residents of Abi Barak in the Argo district of the mountainous northeastern state of Badakhshan under hundreds of feet of mud. The first landslide buried some 300 homes and those who had been inside or on the streets at the time as well as those attending a wedding party. The second landslide struck as villagers attempted to rescue those trapped - digging with shovels and their bare hands. Boys and men watch on as aid is distributed to masses of men. Monday 5 May, 2014. Photo by Andrew Quilty / Oculi for TIME.
A group of men dig again where they believed a house was hosting a wedding celebration at the time of the landslide, May 5, 2014.
A young boy whose father was killed in the landslide faints as others dig above where his house lies buried, May 5, 2014.
A young boy cries after fainting as friends and family dig at the site of his family home where his father was killed, May 5, 2014.
A dog sits on a roof above where the mud from the two landslides came to rest in the valley below, May 4, 2014.
Children eat from one of several giant cooking pans as an Afghan National Army helicopter departs the site, May 5, 2014.
Two women walk from the main center of aid distribution back to their village, some of which was destroyed by the landslide, May 5,2014.
The road from the capital of Badakhshan, Faizabad to Abi Barik, is becoming increasingly hard to pass as trucks filled with aid dig deep ruts in river crossings, further hampering already compromised aid efforts, May 6, 2014.
Rising tensions over the ineffective distribution of aid has been compounded by people from nearby villages, unaffected by the landslide but still needy, arriving to take advantage of the free handouts. The unloading of tent packages continued in a more orderly fashion following clashes that broke out, which had caused police to fire warning shots and led NGOs and media to briefly evacuate, May 6, 2014.
A meeting is held in the center of the village following clashes between police and locals, May 6, 2014.
Giant pots heated by wood fires cook food for hungry villagers displaced by the landslide, May 6, 2014.
Police try to control the crowd as it converges on cooked food. Many are unable to cook with the raw ingredients that many aid organizations are providing because they have no means of doing so, May 6, 2014.
A woman by her tent on the side of a steep hill at the top of Abi Barik, May 6, 2014.
Police climb a hill to guard a helicopter aid delivery, May 6, 2014.
Villagers crowd beneath a house that has become the main point of aid distribution in Abi Barik following last Friday's landslide, May 7, 2014.
President Hamid Karzai visited Abi Barik and spoke to villagers following the landslides. He appeased one man who had stood up to speak and passionately raise his concerns, May 7, 2014.
Red carpets were rolled out, then away, after a visit by President Hamid Karzai, May 7, 2014.
The search for survivors in the Argo district was hampered by poor weather and insufficient tools, May 3, 2014.
Andrew Quilty—Oculi for TIME
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