New Delhi: India on Saturday offered help to Afghanistan where more than 2,000 people were reportedly killed in flood-induced landslides a day earlier.
Expressing shock at the devastation, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered New Delhi's assistance in relief and rehabilitation efforts in the disaster-struck, remote Badakhshan province in Afghanistan.
Pain and sorrow
"The people of India stand with their Afghan friends in grieving for those who have perished or are missing. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this hour of pain and sorrow.
"We know that the Afghan people will face up to this tragedy with their unmatched courage and fortitude," the Prime Minister said in a statement. He added: "India stands ready to provide whatever assistance and support that we can for rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts to help the victims of this enormous disaster."
Quoting Badakhshan's provincial Governor Shah Adeeb, media reports said that over 2,000 people had been killed in the aftermath of the landslides on Friday while some 4,000 people were currently being forced to live without food, water or shelter in near freezing temperatures.
The Afghan Army and police are helping in rescue and rehabilitation efforts, but they have been hampered by the layers of mud which have completely buried parts of the village of Hobo Barik in Badakshan, the reports have said.
The rescue efforts have also been hampered by the lack of heavy earth-moving equipment in the region, which borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.
The first landslide had hit on Friday, while a wedding was being held in the village. Another landslide, described by the provincial Governor as part of a hill collapsing, hit soon after, even as rescuers were rushed to the affected area.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has sent a high-level delegation, headed by Vice President Mohammad Khalili, to supervise rescue and relief operations.
India has been one of Afghanistan's foremost development partners over the years.
And, since the fall of the Taliban regime in November 2001, India has pledged more than USD two billion for rehabilitation and aid for the war-ravaged country.
Satrajit Moitra - Times Correspondent