Avalanche Hits Afghanistan, Pakistan: More than 100 killed | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 07, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:48 AM, February 07, 2017

Avalanche Hits Afghanistan, Pakistan: More than 100 killed

At least 119 people have died along the Afghan-Pakistani border after three days of heavy snowfall caused a series of deadly avalanches Sunday.

Numbers are expected to rise as rescuers reach isolated regions where it's feared more people are trapped beneath the snow.

Most of the casualties occurred in Afghanistan, where at least 119 have been killed and 67 are reported injured, said Omar Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority.

Mohamaddi said that most of the victims were women and children, and that deaths were reported in the provinces of eastern Nuristan, northern Parwan, Sar-e-Pul, Badakhshan and eastern Wardak.

At least 50 were killed in the Barg-e-Matal district of Nuristan province -- to the north of Kabul -- where unrelenting snow has buried villages and closed roads to rescue workers.

Across the border in Pakistan, an avalanche rocked the the district of Chitral late Saturday night, when most were asleep. In the high-altitude Garam Chashma area, 13 have been confirmed dead and 19 have been injured, said Shahab Ahmed, the District Coordination Officer of Chitral.

The dead in Garam Chashma include four women, four children, and one man, Ahmed said. The devastating wave of pounding snow and ice left 19 houses in the area damaged, he added.

Ahmed said that at least one soldier was killed in Chitral after snow hit a guard post in a separate avalanche, and six soldiers were injured after the incident.

Chitral is in Pakistan's disaster-prone Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where flash floods killed at least 47 people and left 37 others injured in April.

Sheena Ayub Khan, spokesperson for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's disaster management authority, told CNN that evacuation efforts are underway.

Another snow storm is expected to lash the border area again on Friday.

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

Some areas in Badakhshan usually "are only accessible three months a year", Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told AFP when asked about access to the region.

With summits peaking at 8,000 metres, other districts can take up to 20 days to get to by road, he said.

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 the north.

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