At least 166 people have died in a wave of bitterly cold weather sweeping Afghanistan, an official said, as extreme conditions heaped misery on the poverty-stricken nation.
The disaster management ministry said on Saturday the death toll had risen by 88 over the past week and now stood at 166, based on data from 24 of the nation's 34 provinces.
Afghanistan has been frozen by temperatures as low as -33 degrees Celsius (-27 degrees Fahrenheit) since January 10, combined with widespread snowfall, icy gales, and regular electricity outages.
Aid agencies had warned before the cold snap that more than half of Afghanistan's 38 million people were facing hunger, while nearly four million children were suffering from malnutrition.
The deaths were caused by floods, fires, and leaks from gas heaters that Afghan families use to heat their homes, ministry official Abdul Rahman Zahid said in a video statement.
Some 100 homes were destroyed or damaged and nearly 80,000 livestock, a vital commodity for Afghanistan's poor, also died in the cold.
READ MORE: More than 160 die as Afghanistan grapples with coldest winter in 15 years
Declining foreign aid
The World Health Organization (WHO) said this week 17 people had died in a single village in northeastern Badakhshan province due to an outbreak of "acute respiratory infection".
"Harsh weather prevents help from reaching the area," the WHO said.
Afghanistan is enduring its second winter since US-backed forces withdrew and the Taliban surged back into Kabul to reclaim government.
Foreign aid has declined dramatically since then, and key central bank assets were seized by the United States, compounding a humanitarian crisis considered one of the world's worst.
READ MORE: Freezing temperature in Afghanistan kills at least 70 people