Afghanistan avalanches: Death toll hits 119, PM Modi condoles deaths, offers help
A storm dumped as much as two metres (6.5 feet) of snow on many areas of Afghanistan over the weekend. At least 119 people died and 89 were injured in avalanches and by collapsed roofs and traffic accidents.world Updated: Feb 06, 2017 22:54 IST
Afghan officials were working on Monday to reach remote villages after avalanches and heavy snow killed at least 119 people around the country.
A storm dumped as much as two metres (6.5 feet) of snow on many areas of Afghanistan over the weekend, according to officials.
At least 119 people died and 89 were injured in avalanches and by collapsed roofs and traffic accidents, in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces over the past three days, said Wais Ahmad Barmak, minister for disaster management.
“There is a possibility that some people still could be trapped in some areas and we do not have information yet,” he said.
Among the hardest hit areas was Nuristan, a mountainous province on the eastern border with Pakistan.
An avalanche there on Sunday killed 63 people and injured 27, according to an official in the provincial governor’s office.
Barmak’s spokesperson Omer Mohammadi said rescue teams have so far recovered 48 bodies from those villages and that more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of farmland have been destroyed.
Mohammadi said it would take some time to establish a clear picture of the full extent of the damage.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the loss of lives in Afghanistan avalanches and offered India’s assistance.
“Heartfelt condolences on the loss of lives in Afghanistan due to avalanches. India stands ready to assist in any way possible,” he tweeted.
Avalanches, triggered by heavy snowfall across Afghanistan, have killed at least 119 people in recent days.
The UN humanitarian coordinator, Mark Bowden, said the Afghan government was leading rescue operations, but the United Nations “stands ready to fully support” the relief effort.
“With some areas difficult to access, it may take some time until a clear picture of the full extent of the damage is known,” the United Nations said in a statement.
Around the country nearly 200 homes were destroyed and 500 head of livestock were killed, Barmak said.
Many roads remained blocked, with clearance efforts expected to take “many days”, he said.
Though bringing misery to so many people, snow is vital for Afghanistan, where most farmers rely on snow melting in the mountains to sustain crops in the spring and summer.
(With AFP inputs)