News ID: 177042
Published: 0658 GMT February 05, 2017

Dozens killed as heavy snow blankets parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan

Dozens killed as heavy snow blankets parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan

Parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan struggled to dig out from heavy snow on Sunday, with dozens of people reported killed and some major highways closed.

Heavy snow also blanketed the Afghan capital of Kabul, where the government closed its offices, Reuters reported.

The death toll from three days of heavy snow across Afghanistan rose to 54 on Sunday and there were fears the toll could rise as rescuers began clearing roads to remote areas.

Avalanches destroyed scores of homes and blocked roads in central and northeastern provinces, a spokesman for the ministry of natural disasters told AFP.

"So far, 54 persons have lost their lives and 52 were injured as a result of avalanches and freezing weather in 22 provinces," said Mohammad Omar Mohammadi.

He said 168 houses were destroyed and 340 cattle killed.

On the other side of the border, at least nine people, including children, were killed by an avalanche in northern Pakistan’s Chitral district, with as many as 14 residents believed to still be trapped in collapsed houses, said district official Syed Maghferat Shah.

“So far the rescue workers have recovered nine bodies and efforts are under way to retrieve mor‎e,” he said.

The avalanche struck a small village of 25 houses, but evacuation operations were delayed by the weather, said Chitral deputy commissioner Shahab Hameed Yousafzai.

“There is no way to rush the injured persons to Chitral hospital because all roads in the valley have been blocked due to heavy snowfall,” he said.

In a separate incident in the Chitral region, a government rescue worker was killed when an avalanche struck a check post near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the commanding officer told Reuters.

The snow wreaked havoc on major roads in Afghanistan, including the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, where police and soldiers had to rescue around 250 cars and buses trapped by the storm, said Jawid Salangi, a spokesman for Ghazni Province, where as much as two meters of new snow was reported.

“Some people were carried to local residents’ houses and some to military and police checkpoints,” he said, noting that officials expected the road to reopen quickly. “Fortunately we arrived on time and there is not a single causality.”

The Salang pass north of Kabul was also closed under as much as two and a half meters of snow, according to police general Rajab Salangi, who oversees the area.


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