Renewed Flash Floods Due to Unusually Heavy Seasonal Rains Kill at Least 15 People in Afghanistan

An Afghan man stands at the site of flash floods in the Pashah Qol of Baghlan province on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
An Afghan man stands at the site of flash floods in the Pashah Qol of Baghlan province on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Renewed Flash Floods Due to Unusually Heavy Seasonal Rains Kill at Least 15 People in Afghanistan

An Afghan man stands at the site of flash floods in the Pashah Qol of Baghlan province on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
An Afghan man stands at the site of flash floods in the Pashah Qol of Baghlan province on May 19, 2024. (AFP)

Renewed heavy rains have triggered more flash floods in Afghanistan, killing at least 15 people, including 10 members of the same family in the northeast, officials said Sunday.

The unusually heavy seasonal rains have been wreaking havoc on multiple parts of the country, killing hundreds of people and destroying property and crops. The UN food agency warned that survivors were unable to make a living.

The floods Saturday night hit northeastern Badakhshan and northern Baghlan provinces, with the latter already having suffered the brunt of the rains earlier this month.

The family — a set of parents and their eight children — was reported dead in Faizabad, the capital of Badakhshan, said Mohammad Akram Akbari, director of the provincial natural disaster management department in the province, adding that rescue teams were only able to recover the mother’s body.

In Baghlan province, Edayatullah Hamdard, provincial director of Natural Disaster Management, said at least 40 houses were destroyed in Doshi district, and several people have died but was unable to provide further details.

However, a local official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to talk to the press, reported that five bodies have so far been found in the province and rescue teams were looking for more.

Earlier, the World Food Program said the exceptionally heavy rains in Afghanistan had killed more than 300 people and destroyed thousands of houses, mostly in the northern province of Baghlan on May 10 and May 11. Survivors have been left with no home, no land, and no source of livelihood, WFP said.

In the western province of Ghor, 50 people were reported dead due to floods on May 18.

On May 19, at least 84 people were killed in northern Faryab, and around 1,500 houses were either completely or partially destroyed while hundreds of hectares (acres) of farmlands.

The latest disaster came on the heels of devastating floods that killed at least 70 people in April. The waters also destroyed about 2,000 homes, three mosques and four schools in western Farah and Herat, and southern Zabul and Kandahar provinces.



Iran Presidential Hopefuls Debate Economy Ahead of Election

Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
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Iran Presidential Hopefuls Debate Economy Ahead of Election

Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters
Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf speaks during a campaign event in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

The six candidates vying to succeed ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash, focused on revitalizing Iran's sanctions-hit economy in their first debate ahead of next week's election.

The contenders -- five conservatives and a sole reformer -- faced off in a four-hour live debate, vowing to address the financial challenges affecting the country's 85 million people.

Originally slated for 2025, the election was moved forward after Raisi's death on May 19 in a helicopter crash in northern Iran.

Long before the June 28 election, Iran had been grappling with mounting economic pressures, including international sanctions and soaring inflation.

"We will strengthen the economy so that the government can pay salaries according to inflation and maintain their purchasing power," conservative presidential hopeful Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf said.

Ghalibaf, Iran's parliament speaker, also pledged to work towards removing crippling US sanctions reimposed after then US president Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran's economy grew by 5.7 percent in the year to March 2024, with authorities targeting a further eight percent growth this year, driven by hydrocarbon exports.

The sole reformist candidate, Massoud Pezeshkian, said he would seek to build regional and global relations to achieve this growth.

He also called for easing internet restrictions in the country where Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and X are among the social media platforms banned.

Reformists, whose political influence has waned in the years since the 1979 revolution, have fallen in behind Pezeshkian after other moderate hopefuls were barred from standing.

Ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, however, said Iran did not need to repair its relations with the West.

He took aim at Trump, saying his policy of "maximum pressure" against Iran had "failed miserably".

- 'Maximum pressure' -

In the absence of opinion polls, Ghalibaf, Jalili and Pezeshkian are seen as the frontrunners for Iran's second highest-ranking job.

Ultimate authority in the state is wielded by the supreme leader rather the president with 85-year-old Ali Khamenei holding the post for 35 years.

Incumbent Vice President Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi said during the debate he would seek to lower inflation following a "political leadership style similar to that of Martyr Raisi."

Raisi easily won Iran's 2021 election in which no reformist or moderate figures were allowed to run. Backed by Khamenei he had been tipped to possibly replace the supreme leader.

Iran’s relations with the West continued to suffer, particularly following the outbreak of the October 7 Gaza war.

Tehran's support for the Palestinian armed group Hamas, coupled with ongoing diplomatic tensions over Iran's nuclear program have hastened the decline.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi, the only cleric in the running, blamed international sanctions for "blocking the economy" and "making financial transactions impossible".

Tehran's conservative mayor, Alireza Zakani, said the US sanctions were "cruel" but were not the main problem behind Iran's economic hardship.

"We should emphasize the economic independence of the country, de-dollarize the economy and rely on our own national currency," he said.