More than 100 people have been killed because of a series of avalanches in Afghanistan, with at least 50 dying in a village in the Nuristan province, governemnt officials said on Sunday. The toll is likely to rise as rescuers are yet to access villages blocked off by the snow, AFP reported. The avalanches – triggered after at least three days of heavy snowfall – have destroyed several homes in the central and northeastern provinces of the country, the officials said.
Rescuers said their operations were hampered by blocked roads and poor weather conditions. Badakhshan province spokesperson Naweed Frotan said several people had been trapped under snow after the avalanches struck their homes overnight. Sari Pul provincial spokesperson Zabiullah Amani said officials were trying to rescue at least 70 people trapped under the snow after avalanches in the Balkhab district. The Afghan government declared Sunday – normally a working day – a public holiday to deter travel and ensure that schools did not open.
In neighbouring Pakistan, at least 14 people were killed after an avalanche hit the Chitral district on Sunday, CNN reported. A district official said several people were missing and that efforts were being made to locate them. A spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s disaster management authority said officials were conducting evacuation operations in the region. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country’s National Disaster Management Authority would coordinate rescue efforts and provide shelter and medical assistance for those affected by the avalanches.