Two people were killed by a landslide in the southern Kyrgyz district of Kara-Kulja on Monday, according to officials. "The landslide buried two people, a father and his son," Alima Sharipova, a spokeswoman for the Kyrgyz Emergency Ministry, told IRIN from the ministry's headquarters in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. "It was their land and they were sowing it."
Her comments came the day after a land mass of some 350,000 cubic meters slid down in the Kara-Batkak area of Kara-Kulja district, killing 35-year-old Joomart Aliev and his son Bekmamat, 14. According to the Emergency Ministry, they were working in a place at high risk of landslides.
"They had been warned not to go there. But it is spring now and all the people [in the area] are busy ploughing in mountains and ravines, where even grazing cattle is forbidden. But they pasture their livestock and sow some crops. It is banned but the people [continue to] go there and do so hoping that God will keep them safe," Sharipova explained.
Civil defense officials and rescue workers had already left for the landslide-struck area by Tuesday morning, Sharipova said. They would evaluate the situation on the ground and try to recover the bodies. However, if conducting rescue operations could cause further landslides - as had happened in the past - they would leave the place and declare it a common grave, if local people agreed, she explained.
Emergency officials last week warned of the possibility of landslides in the south, citing minor tremors over the past month and much higher rainfall expected in May. "Rains would definitely cause new landslides. All of the most dangerous huge landslide-prone areas became more active last year. We expect that those potential landslides will occur," Anarkul Aitaliev, head of the Emergency Ministry's department for monitoring and forecasting, said.
Earlier this year, emergency officials warned about the increasing risk of landslides in Kyrgyzstan, particularly the country's south. In April alone, more than 20 landslides occurred in the country. The worst claimed the lives of 33 and left scores homeless in Osh province.
IRIN, May 11, 2004