Bishkek, Apr 29 (AFP) A landslide swept over part of a village in Kyrgyzstan early today, killing 24 people, including nine children, the emergencies ministry said.
The landslide hit the village of Ayu in the Osh region of the mountainous Central Asian country at around 0640 am (local time) and covered six houses with inhabitants inside, the emergencies ministry said in a statement.
“All 24 citizens of Kyrgzystan, nine of them children, died under the landslide in the south of the country,” emergencies ministry spokeswoman Elmira Sheripova told AFP.
She was updating an initial statement that reported four dead and at least 20 missing.
A total of 266 rescue workers including medics and soldiers were at the scene, Sheripova said.
The emergencies minister, Kubatbek Boronov, flew to the site on the orders of President Almazbek Atambayev to take “all possible measures to alleviate the consequences of the landslide and give all necessary help to families of the dead”, according to a statement on the president’s website.
Atambayev himself in an emotional address published on the presidential YouTube channel called on villagers to heed government warnings to leave their homes during extreme weather.
“The biggest pain in all the trouble that has befallen us is (the fact that) 2 or 3 days ago our compatriots living there did not listen to the specialists and refused to resettle,” said Atambayev.
“I appeal to my compatriots. A person’s life, especially the life of a child, is much more precious than any property, any livestock. You cannot put any sort of property above life!”
The emergencies ministry said its chief Boronov was in charge of organising the evacuation of 40 families living close to the disaster zone and housing them in tents due to the risk of further landslides.
A district official Alisher Bakyshev told local media that residents had been ordered to leave by the emergencies ministry in March due to the risk of landslides and 34 families had left their homes but some later returned.
The landslide is the second major tragedy to strike the ex-Soviet country of six million people since the beginning of the year.
In January a Turkish cargo plane crashed into a village close to the country’s main airport, killing 39 people.
Ninety-five per cent of Kyrgyzstan’s territory is mountainous. A landslide in the country’s south in 2004 killed 33 people. (AFP)
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.