Days of avalanches kill more than 100 in Afghanistan

Days of avalanches kill more than 100 in Afghanistan
Avalanches killed at least 100 people in Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday, following several days of heavy snowstorms that resulted in deaths across the country.
3 min read
05 February, 2017
Scores have died in avalanches over three days [Getty]
More than a 100 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by days of heavy snowfall around Afghanistan, including 50 in one village, officials said on Sunday, warning the death toll could rise further.

The disaster in north eastern Nuristan province followed three days of heavy snow across Afghanistan which has killed 54 people elsewhere in the country, officials said. 

Scores of homes have been destroyed and roads blocked in central and northeastern provinces, a spokesman for the ministry of natural disasters told AFP, adding 340 cattle were killed.  

Authorities fear the toll may rise sharply because rescue crews have yet to reach some of the worst-hit areas.

In the badly-hit northeastern province of Badakhshan at least 18 people, including three women and two children, were killed when avalanches hit their houses overnight, said provincial spokesman Naweed Frotan.

"Several dozens are still trapped, we are trying to rescue them," he said, adding that many roads were still blocked.

Five people were killed by avalanches in the Balkhab district of Sari Pul province in northern Afghanistan and at least 70 people trapped under the snow were being rescued, said provincial spokesman Zabiullah Amani.

"The roads to Balkhab are still blocked and we are trying to open them," he said.

Freezing weather killed at least two people and more than 100 animals in the western province of Badghis.

Sixteen people died in Parwan province just north of Kabul, the spokesman for governor Wahid Sediqqi said.

The government declared on Sunday, a normal working day in Afghanistan, to be a public holiday to deter non-essential travel and ensure schools were closed.

Unusually, snow even fell in the southern province of Kandahar. 

Meanwhile, neighbouring Pakistan was also hit by severe weather, with at least 13 people killed in the northwest by avalanches or heavy rain.

An avalanche smashed into eight homes in the village of Shershal in Chitral district, killing nine people including four women and four children.

The region has been hit by heavy snowfall that is four feet (1.2 metres) deep in some places.

A separate avalanche killed a soldier at a border checkpoint in Chitral district, a military statement said, while six more soldiers were injured.

Deadly avalanches are common in Afghanistan's mountainous areas in winter and rescue efforts are frequently hampered by lack of equipment.

Despite billions of dollars in international aid after the ousting of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghanistan remains among the world's poorest nations.

Last month heavy snowfall and freezing weather killed 27 children, all under the age of five, in Jawzjan province in northern Afghanistan.