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Afghan avalanches leave over 108 people dead

25 February 2015 17:24

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At least 108 people have been killed due to avalanches triggered by two days of heavy snow in Afghanistan’s northeastern areas, an emergency official says.

Mohammad Aslam Syas, the deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority said on Wednesday that the avalanches destroyed homes across the Asian country’s northeastern provinces, killing their inhabitants.

Rescue teams have been dispatched to the affected areas as the number of casualties is expected increase, Syas said.

Panjshir Province, located some 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of the Afghan capital city of Kabul, is the worst-hit region where the avalanches have demolished around 100 homes, the official added.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Kabiri, the acting governor of Panjshir, said rescuers have recovered 95 bodies across the province, adding, “Ordinary people and government employees are using shovels and bare hands to rescue those who are still trapped under the snow,”

The death toll could rise unless emergency assistance is provided to the country’s avalanche-stricken regions soon, Kabiri added.

The remarks come as parts of Kabul experienced power cuts on Tuesday and Wednesday after snowfalls damaged power cables in the Salang Pass, which connects the capital to the country’s north. Authorities in Parwan province closed the strategic Salang Tunnel, which links the north and south of the country, over avalanche fears.

President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement saying that he was “saddened by news of the avalanches and flooding across the country.” Ghani added that he had ordered urgent assessments of the extent of damage and offered his condolences to the families of the dead.

Afghanistan is highly vulnerable to various kinds of natural disasters, affecting the lives of thousands of people every year.

Deadly avalanches are also common in Afghanistan’s mountainous areas, where lack of infrastructure as well as environmental degradation aggravate the impact of heavy snow.

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