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Tajikistan Hurricanes Leave Thousands Homeless

Three dead, Thousands Homeless in Tajikistan hurricanes, June 9, 2003

LONDON - At least three people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless in northern Tajikistan after hurricanes and heavy rainfall swept the region late last week, Russia's Itar Tass news agency reported on the weekend.

First Deputy Emergencies Minister Abdurahim Rajabov told Itar-Tass that about 700 houses, hundreds of administrative, cultural and social facilities and dozens of bridges were damaged in the agricultural region of the Central Asian country.

The government has declared the area a natural disaster zone, the report, picked up by the BBC's Monitoring service, said.

The worst-hit areas were the towns of Panjakent; Chkalovsk; Ghafurov; Khujand, the administrative centre of Soghd Region; and a number of other agricultural districts, it said.

The situation was critical in Panjakent, where three people were killed and 400 houses were destroyed, Rajabov said. Three motorway bridges were pulled down by torrents of water and the town centre was divided by a large water-filled crater.

According to Rajabov, pouring rains and a hurricane that swept the regional centre of Khujand and Chkalovsk caused hundreds of trees to collapse onto apartment blocks and paralysed energy supplies and public transport.

First relief convoys have been sent to the affected districts, where showers were continuing, the report said. Local municipalities and regional departments for emergency situations evacuated the homeless and were providing them with food and shelter.

Emergencies Minister Mirzo Ziyo was supervising clearing up operations. According to preliminary data, the damage was estimated at tens of millions of dollars.