Dozens of houses have been destroyed after being buried by a landslide from the Gunt River in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAR) in eastern Tajikistan; the local populated areas are at risk of being further flooded, says Orif Nozimov, a spokesperson for the republic's governmental emergencies committee.
Human casualties have been avoided; residents are being evacuated.
"The landslide in the Shugnan district has destroyed 56 households, washed away a school, six shops, roads and overhead power lines," Nozimov said.
In all, 4.5 kilometers of highway have been ruined, including 2.5 kilometers of the international Khorugh-Osh highway connecting the GBAR administrative center with the Kyrgyz city of Osh, as well as China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the spokesperson said.
"At the altitude of about 2,500 meters above sea level, the landslide blocked the River Gunt (a tributary of the Panj River on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan), leading to formation of an artificial water body which has gradually started covering the areas of the villages of Barsem and Berdikov," the spokesperson said.
"For this reason, the population of these areas has been evacuated to safe places. Many people have already lived in nearby mountains for three days," he added.
A governmental commission is working in the disaster area to assess the damage and how much aid is needed. Three helicopters have been deployed to evacuate residents and deliver food, tents and essentials.
It was reported earlier that a landslide, which hit a number of areas in the GBAR, led to power cuts in the region's Shugnan and Roshtkali districts and in parts of the Rushan and Ishkoshim districts.
The GBAR, which has a population of around 210,000 people, has ten active small hydropower plants. The Shugnan district has a population of 38,000; the Roshtkali district 26,000 people. Both are situated 30-50 kilometers away from Khorugh, the administrative enter of the GBAR, which in turn is 520 kilometers southeast of Dushanbe.
Mountains account for around 93% of Tajik territory. Precipitation in mountains often causes rockfalls, avalanches and landslides leading to significant damage in valleys.
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