The death toll following dual landslides in Afghanistan surged into the thousands today after the affected area was declared a "mass grave." As we noted yesterday, the landslides took place in the Badakhshan region, first engulfing homes and a wedding party.
Villagers mostly agree 200-300 homes engulfed but unsure who was inside, who headed to mosque, how many in wedding party that was buried etc— Emma Graham-Harrison (@_EmmaGH) May 3, 2014
It was then followed by a subsequent landslide, which swarmed those who rushed to help the victims.
A reliable death toll has been hard to come by, especially as conflicting numbers were quoted earlier today.
The U.N. mission in Afghanistan said more than 350 people were killed, but a spokesman for the local governor put the number in excess of 2,100. The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 2,700 were dead or missing.
This afternoon, however, the outlook went from grim to macabre when Afghan officials declared that the area was a "mass grave" and that digging through the layers of mud and rock were simply impossible.
Focus has now shifted on helping thousands of survivors and evacuees.
Response groups were rounding up food, water, medical support, counselors and emergency shelter for them, according to a spokesman for the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
President Obama offered his sympathy during a press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel this afternoon.