4 months' worth of rain in 30 hours floods desert city of Kandahar, 2 000 homes damaged, at least 20 killed, Afghanistan

4 months' worth of rain in 30 hours floods desert city of Kandahar, 2 000 homes damaged, at least 20 killed, Afghanistan

More than 4 months' worth of rain hit the desert city of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan and 6 neighboring districts in just 30 hours on March 1 and 2, 2019, killing at least 20 people and damaging or destroying an estimated 2 000 homes. Kandahar has a desert climate and there is virtually no rainfall there during the year.

The storm hit Kandahar city and the districts of Zheri, Dand, Damand, Arghandab, Spinboldak and Takhtapu, dropping 97 mm (3.81 inches) of rain in just 30 hours. While that amount doesn't sound much, this region has a desert climate with about 176 mm (6.92 inches) of rain in an entire year and 97 mm in such short period of time is devastating.

January is the region's wettest month with about 62 mm (2.44 inches) of rain, followed by February with 43 mm (1.69 inches), and March and December with 21 mm (0.82 inches). Other months receive between 0 and 4 mm (0.15 inches) of rain.

Flash floods produced by unusually heavy rainfall have reportedly killed 20 people, including a number of children, when their homes collapsed or the vehicles they were traveling in were swept away by floodwaters. At least 10 are reportedly missing in Arghandab, Daman, Spin Boldak and Dand districts.

Severe damage to infrastructure has been reported, including to homes, UN ECHO reports.

In Kandahar city alone, an estimated 600 houses have been damaged or destroyed. Flood-affected families have been evacuated to secure areas in the districts and Kandahar city including schools, mosques, government buildings and the Haji camp. Government offices in PD#6 have been affected with buildings and documentation damaged or lost.

The Shifa area in Dand is on high alert as water levels continue to rise.

In Arghandab there are reports that a large number of Kochi (nomadic) families – approximately 500 individuals - are stranded on the river bank. There is an urgent need for air support to rescue those who are trapped and to bring in immediate relief items.

Featured image credit: Floods in Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 1, 2019. Credit: Elham Shaheem

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