19 killed, scores stranded in Afghan snowfalls
At least 19 people have been killed and hundreds more are stranded or missing after heavy snowfalls hit Afghanistan, an official said yesterday.
In the biggest incident eight members of one family were killed when their mud-brick house collapsed under the weight of snow in western Herat province overnight, Nooruddin Ahmadi, head of the Afghan Red Crescent in Herat, told AFP.
Other people killed included six shepherds from a mountainous region in the province and two other people died in a nearby district in an avalanche, he added.
More than 250 policemen have been left stranded by the poor weather and at least 16 civilians are missing.
In neighbouring Ghor province, another rugged and mountainous region, three people were killed when an avalanche covered their home, Ikramuddin Rezazada, deputy governor of Ghor said.
The police officers were escorting a UN food convoy and hit trouble as most of the roads were blocked because of snow falls as much as one metre (three feet) deep, another official said.
The heavy snowfalls come after a decade-long drought which ended in 2003.
Ahmadi called on the Kabul government and the international community for urgent support before it turns to a "real disaster".