Avalanches kill over 100 people in Afghanistan

Snowslips devastate Nuristan province where dozens are dead and missing. The death toll is expected to rise in northern areas of the country.

Reuters/Handout: Reuters
Reuters/Handout: Reuters

The avalanches, triggered by heavy snowfall, have also killed an estimated 550 animals and destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of farmland.

Updated Feb 7, 2017

The official nationwide death toll crossed 100 after heavy snow and avalanches hit several parts of Afghanistan in the last three days, officials said on Monday.

Aid is being delivered by helicopter to Nuristan, a province devastated by the avalanche, where at least 64 people have been killed including 53 in one village, provincial governor Hafiz Abdul Qayyom said. Dozens more were still missing.

There has been no word yet from some villages in Nuristan which Qayyom said received nearly three metres (10 feet) of snow, with blocked roads and mountainous terrain slowing the rescue effort.

"We will evacuate wounded victims to the city of Jalalabad for treatment," he said, adding that skies were clear Monday.

According to TRT World'Bilal Sarwary, rescue and relief efforts were hindered by limited emergency resources.

"There are 17 more people who are confirmed killed... In Kabul they are trying to find helicopters to deliver medicine and food," Sarwary reported. 

"Unfortunately, for the people stuck in the snow, the only hope is helicopters dropping food and medicine. Afghanistan is a country which doesn’t have many transport helicopters. The government will have to rely on international forces and aid agencies."

Afghanistan & Pakistan both hit

Omer Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Afghan State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, said that more than 50 others were injured in different parts of the country.

He said more than 150 homes have been destroyed by the avalanches and that 50 others were heavily damaged.

The avalanches, which came after heavy snowfall, have also killed an estimated 550 animals and destroyed more than 1,000 hectares of farmland, Mohammadi said.

Meanwhile, avalanches in neighbouring Pakistan have killed at least 13 people and buried five homes, according to Nizamud Shah, a local official in the northern city of Chitral. Several people are missing, he added.

TRTWorld and agencies