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Mudslides, Avalanches Kill 18 In Tajikistan

DUSHANBE (Reuters) -- Unusually powerful mudslides have killed at least 18 people in Tajikistan this month, the Emergencies Ministry has said.

Landslides happen every year in Tajikistan, but they were stronger than usual this spring due to very heavy rainfall. That has added hardship to the mountainous nation of 7 million already hit hard by the global economic downturn.

The Emergencies Ministry said 18 people, including seven children, have died in separate landslides and avalanches over the last two weeks in the mainly Muslim former Soviet republic.

Downpours of rain and melting snow often cause torrents of water, clay and rocks to cascade onto settlements in spring in the mountainous nation bordering Afghanistan.

Last week, a powerful mudslide swept through the central streets of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, causing panic among some of its residents. No one died.