Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 4, 2014

Focus now on Afghan families displaced by slide

(Continued)

"Some people left with almost nothing," Graydon said.

Authorities visiting from Kabul gave $800,000 to the provincial governor during visits on Saturday and Sunday to use in the aid effort, said Kakar and Barmak, who promised that the government would pay more if needed.

President Hamid Karzai designated Sunday as a day of mourning for the hundreds of people who died. Authorities still don't have an exact figure on how many people died in the landslide, Barmak said, and estimates have ranged from 250 to 2,700.

The government has identified 250 people who died and estimated that 300 houses were buried under tons of mud, Barmak said.

It will be impossible to dig up all the bodies, but many people continue to look on their own, said Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the head of Badakhshan province's National Disaster Department. He said officials met with community elders Sunday in Faizabad, the provincial capital, to see whether they wanted the government to continue digging, but said no final decision has been made.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Karzai on Sunday to offer his condolences and additional assistance for the relief efforts. A White House statement about the call did not elaborate.

Afghanistan has suffered through some three decades of war since the Soviet invasion in 1979. But natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches have taken a toll on a country with little infrastructure or development outside of its major cities.

Already this year, 159 people have died in April and May from flooding, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Sunday in a statement. New waves of flooding are expected in two northern provinces, the agency said.

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Faiez reported from Kabul. Associated Press writer Rebecca Santana in Kabul contributed to this report.

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