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Bodies to be retrieved, aid delivered: Karzai

KABUL: President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday toured the landslide-hit village in northeastern Badakhshan province and promised to build a residential township for those rendered homeless by the May 2 disaster.

The massive landside in the Aab-i-Barik village of Argon district destroyed around 300 homes. About 700 families were forced to flee homes fearing further landslides following days of rains.

Authorities stopped digging up the site after two days of rescue efforts, saying it would be impossible to retrieve all the bodies buried deep under a sea of mud.

Karzai arrived in the village at around 11am and met the affected families housed in tents before addressing a gathering.

“The aid collected is in a large quantity and it will be given to you as much as you need,” he told the affected families, urging them to stay united in this difficult time. He also called on the affected families to avoid creating a stampede.

 

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Some people who spoke on behalf of the survivors complained about unjust distribution of relief goods and lack of drinking water. They demanded retrieval of bodies from the debris and construction of new houses for the displaced.

They also complained against their representatives in the parliament and accused them of distributing aid to their relatives.

But Karzai told them he had tasked Rural Rehabilitation and Development Minister Wais Barmak to ensure the aid distribution process was transparent. He directed Barmak to create a commission for aid delivery in an organised manner.

Karzai promised the construction of 1000 homes for those rendered homeless. He said Barmak would supervise the township’s construction. He directed the authorities concerned to construct reservoirs of clean drinking water.

The president ordered the creation of an exit route for a blocked stream so it did not cause further devastation.

“We have received a large amount of aid in your name. All your needs will be fulfilled,” said Karzai, who called on the displaced families to keep sending their children to school.

He suggested the children should be taught in tents for the time being and promised a second visit to the area in the next 20 days to get apprised of the aid distribution process.

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