At least 40 people have been killed and 150 more are missing after flash floods hit the northeastern Afghan province of Nuristan, officials said, while the Taliban, which controls the area ravaged by the waters, gave a much higher death toll.
A rescue operation was under way on July 29 to find the missing people after torrential rains overwhelmed the Kamdesh district of Nuristan, some 355 kilometers northeast of Kabul.
Much of the village of Begha Mirdesh in Kamdesh was destroyed, with hundreds of homes washed away by the swollen waters that ravaged the area late on July 28, killing dozens of people.
"There was a flood in Begha Mirdesh. There were about 700-800 houses there; all of them were destroyed," Abdul Rahman, a resident of the district, told RFE/RL.
"About 40 people were killed last night due to flash floods," Saeedullah Nuristani, head of the provincial council, told AFP.
The spokesman for the provincial governor, Muhammad Sayed Mohmand, said he had received reports of 60 dead but said the toll is likely much higher.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told RFE/RL that the militants would allow access to aid agencies and unarmed government officials.
Mujahid put the death toll at 150, but gave little information about the floods.
It’s not clear if the Taliban has the capabilities to deal with emergencies in areas under their control, which are mostly rural areas.
Provincial council head Saadullah Payendazoi said the floods in Mirdesh had swept away houses, people, and animals. He said eight bodies had been recovered so far in the village.
"It is a disaster and people need help," Payendazoi said.
Nuristan Governor Hafiz Abdul Qayyum told RFE/RL that all communication means have been cut off in the area.
The Doab and Noorgram districts of Nuristan have also been affected by floods, with inhabitants telling RFE/RL that no one had reached out to help them.
This story is based on reporting by Radio Azadi correspondents on the ground in Afghanistan. Their names are being withheld for their protection.