At least 124 people have died in north-eastern Afghanistan, after heavy winter snow

February 26, 2015 10:06 am

At least 124 people have died in north-eastern , after
heavy winter snow caused an avalanche which buried and killed residents
across four provinces.
Panjshir province, around 60 miles (100km)
north-west of the capital, Kabul, was the heaviest hit, as avalanches
destroyed or damaged around 100 homes, said Mohammad Aslam Syas, the
deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management
Authority.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers
desperately used their hands to try to save those buried underneath the
snow, the acting governor of Panjshir, Abdul Rahman Kabiri said.
President
Ashraf Ghani sent his condolences to the families of the dead, and said
he was “saddened by of the avalanches and flooding across the
country”.

Panjshir province was the worst hit area. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
Panjshir province was the worst hit area. Photo / Wikimedia Commons

He added that he had ordered urgent assessments of the extent of damage.

Heavy snowstorms which began early yesterday hampered rescue
efforts, after snowfall nearly 3ft deep accumulated in some areas and
fallen trees blocked roads in the Panjshir Valley.
As many as 600
families were affected by avalanches in Panjshir valley’s Dara
district, according to people trying to reach the area to assist
rescuers.
“People there have told me that two of my relatives
have been killed and eight others are still under the snow,” an Afghan
man who goes by the single name Sharafudin told reporters.
“My
son and I are trying to get through to see if we can help find their
bodies. But it will take us at least three or four hours to get there
because of the snow and the road is very narrow, so we have to walk, the
car can’t get through.
“We’ve had no help yet from the authorities, no medicines, no machinery to open the roads so we can get to the buried houses.”
The
snowfall which has covered large parts of Afghanistan and caused the
tragic avalanches came towards the end of an otherwise mild and dry
winter.
Meanwhile, authorities in Parwan province have closed the strategic Salang Tunnel over avalanche fears.
Power to much of the capital has been cut since earlier this week, after power cables crossing the tunnel were damaged.
However,
forecasters expected snow to start melting in the Panjshir Valley and
much of the mountainous north-west of the Hindu Kush range in coming
days.
As Afghanistan has suffered through some three decades of
war, the subsequently weakened infrastructure outside of towns and
cities means natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches
take a heavy toll on a country.

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