• Outdoors Outdoors

State officials declare humanitarian emergency as death toll climbs after flash flooding: 'Many people are still missing'

The government reported at least 50 deaths, but that number rose to more than a hundred by that evening.

The government reported at least 50 deaths, but that number rose to more than a hundred by that evening.

Photo Credit: iStock

Flash floods sparked by heavy seasonal rain in Afghanistan killed hundreds of people in May 2024, the Guardian reported. 

What's happening?

Flash flooding in Afghanistan, driven by torrential rains, killed hundreds of people, leading authorities to call for a state of emergency. On the morning of May 11, the government reported at least 50 deaths, but that number rose to more than 100 by that evening, according to separate reports from the Guardian. Meanwhile, humanitarian organizations reported more than 300 fatalities. Most of the victims lived within the country's Baghlan province

"Many people are still missing," Abdul Mateen Qani, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told Agence France-Presse, per the Guardian.

This latest event follows at least 130 deaths in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan in April after the countries were hit with unseasonable precipitation.

Why are these floods concerning?

In addition to the loss of life, thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged in northern Baghlan province, the Guardian reported, citing information from the World Food Program.

Plus, floods bring other dangers. For instance, standing water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and mold, which can put people at risk for lung disease, according to the American Lung Association. Flooding is also associated with an increased occurrence of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria.

The deluge of floodwaters in Afghanistan throughout April and May also swamped farmland in a country where more than 80% of people depend on agriculture to survive.

While rain and flooding are naturally occurring events, experts agree that rising global temperatures make extreme weather more frequent and intense. Journalist and climate tech investor Molly Wood even described climate change as "steroids" for weather, saying it supercharges natural weather patterns.

What's being done about the floods?

Emergency personnel rushed to rescue injured and stranded people, and the Air Force started evacuation efforts, transferring hundreds of people to hospitals. The country also distributed food, medicine, and first aid to impacted communities, per the Guardian.

Meanwhile, people worldwide are looking for new ways to cope with future floods. For instance, nonprofits in California are helping residents install rain gardens to protect their properties from soggy weather. Plus, some companies have developed floating homes and office buildings to help communities withstand intense storms and flooding.

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider