Mudslides in Tajikistan leave at least 10 dead

DUSHANBE, TAJIKISTAN (AFP) - Mudslides in Tajikistan have left 10 people dead and two missing, officials said on Tuesday (July 20), in the latest fatal mass flow of earth caused by downpours in the impoverished ex-Soviet region.

Fatal landsides affect mountainous Central Asia every year, mostly around springtime, blocking off roads in a region lacking transport infrastructure and forcing families to rebuild homes from scratch.

"There has been torrential rain in the north of Tajikistan and a fatal mudslide occurred," the emergencies committee said in a statement.

It said flows of earth on Monday swept through the northern Sogd region, trapping people tending to livestock.

"During search operations, rescuers removed the bodies of eight shepherds from under the mud masses. The search for two more continues," the emergency services said.

The bodies of two women were also recovered from debris in a village in the region, where mudflows destroyed several homes, it added.

The emergency services said the landslide in the northern region rendered rural roads impassable, pulled down power lines and destroyed dozens of houses and agricultural land.

Earlier this month, heavy rains in border regions between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan spurred mudslides that left at least 14 dead, according to authorities in the Central Asian countries.

In May, nine people died in landslides in Tajikistan's southeast following heavy rainfall.

More than 90 per cent of Tajikistan - an impoverished majority Muslim country of 9.5 million people that borders Afghanistan - is covered by mountains.

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