TAJIKISTAN: Landslide, earthquake kills 14

23 Jul 2007 13:57:14 GMT
Source: IRIN
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DUSHANBE, 23 July 2007 (IRIN) - An earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, and a landslide triggered by torrential rains, killed 14 people in Tajikistan over the weekend, according to officials. The landslide ripped through a resort area in the Asht District of northern Soghd Province on 22 July at 2pm local time. An assessment team left for the affected region this morning and will be back tomorrow morning with a needs assessment report," Anvar Sabzaliev, a UN disaster risk management project analyst, told IRIN in Dushanbe. According to the Rapid Emergency Assessment and Coordination Team (REACT), comprising government, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), 11 bodies have been retrieved. However, it is feared that the number of dead will rise as the search continues.

The landslide destroyed 25 houses and swept away 20 cars. Tajik Emergency Ministry assessment teams are on the ground and more accurate information is expected to be available shortly. Also on 22 July, an earthquake killed three people in Garm District, 153km northeast of Dushanbe. About 170 houses have been completely destroyed and 1,000 damaged by the tremor, REACT officials said.

Emergency relief

Emergency relief aid kits, including food aid, tents, fuel, hygiene kits, blankets, kitchen utensils, clothes and water purification tablets are set to be distributed among the survivors by donor agencies after the needs assessment is completed. On 21 July, three landslides were reported in the Gorno-Badakshan area in the southeast of the country. According to the Focus USA NGO, eight homes were partially or completely destroyed in Darwaz District and 550 metres of road damaged in Rushan District. One of the landslides in Gorno-Badakshan's Darwaz District swept away eight houses and destroyed a local hydroelectric power station building and bridge.

Tajikistan is prone to various natural disasters, including landslides, avalanches, floods and earthquakes. According to the World Bank, each year the mountainous Central Asian state experiences about 50,000 landslides, 5,000 tremors and earthquakes, and hundreds of avalanches and debris flows.

A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) mission to the country in March 2006 said some 85 percent of Tajikistan's area is threatened by mudflows and 32 percent of the area is situated in a high mudflow risk zone.

According to the European Commission's humanitarian aid department, (ECHO), natural disasters have killed about 2,500 and affected some 5.5 million (almost 10 percent of the population) in central Asia over the past decade.

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