Officials in Afghanistan have decided not to dig out the thousands of people thought to be trapped under a thick layer of mud and rocks after a massive landslide pummeled Badakhshan province Friday.
"Whole villages are reported to now be buried. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, hundreds of people are believed to be trapped in the debris and wreckage." (Via CNN)
According to CNN, the provincial governor said Saturday authorities declared the site a mass grave because it is impossible to dig up any bodies from the mud — which, in some places, is nearly 165 feet deep.
NBC reports the governor said Saturday only 15 bodies have been recovered so far out of the more than 2,000 people officials believe were swallowed by the slide.
The U.N. Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan told Al Jazeera hope of rescuing missing villagers alive "has now disappeared," but it's still too early to release an official death toll.
The landslide wreaked havoc on the area around noon Friday after several days of severe thunderstorms and heavy rain, crushing between 300 and 400 homes in its path.
The Guardian reports around 600 people from a nearby village rushed to the scene to help — but authorities say the hill collapsed a second time and buried them as well.
Search and rescue crews immediately tried to unearth any survivors, but rescuers didn't have the heavy equipment needed to dig out those trapped under the rubble. (Via BBC)
The United Nations says now, the focus has shifted to the more than 4,000 people displaced by the tragic disaster. Authorities say there's a chance even more landslides could occur in the area.