Heavy snowfall in Pakistan's Balochistan province has forced closures of many highways with some parts under six inches of snow.

An internally displaced Afghan boy stands at the door of his shelter during a snowfall in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 6, 2020.
An internally displaced Afghan boy stands at the door of his shelter during a snowfall in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with heavy snowfall, rains and flash floods that left at least 48 people dead, officials said on Monday as authorities struggled to clear and reopen highways and evacuate people to safer places.

In Pakistan, where 30 people were reported killed, much of the damage struck southwestern Balochistan province. Imran Zarkon, chief of provincial disaster management, said 14 died there in the past 24 hours, mainly when roofs collapsed amid heavy snowfall.

Heavy snowfall had forced closures of many highways and some parts in the province were under six inches of snow.

Eleven people were killed in eastern Punjab province, battered by heavy rains, and five others died in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, officials with the state-run emergency service said. 

The divided Himalayan region has witnessed heavy snowfall in recent days and power cuts have been reported. Emergency services said they were struggling to provide food and other items to snow-hit areas.

In Afghanistan, at least 18 people, including women and children, died on account of the severe weather, according to provincial officials.

Hasibullah Shaikhani, a press officer with the state ministry for disaster management, said most of the highways in Afghanistan were closed due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches.

Of the Afghan casualties, eight people were killed in southern Kandahar province, said Bahir Ahamdi, spokesman for the provincial governor. 

In western Herat province, seven people died, including five members of the same family, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Three people were killed in southern Helmand province, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Residents of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where temperatures dropped to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads.

The United Nations had previously estimated that at least nine million Afghans are in need of humanitarian aid, including basic food and housing amid a drawn-out war that has so far displaced hundreds of thousands of people. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies