Houses collapse and roads close as massive avalanches hit eastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.
At least 119 people have died along the Afghan-Pakistani border after three days of heavy snowfall caused by a series of deadly and massive avalanches on Sunday.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach isolated regions where it’s feared more people are trapped beneath the snow.
Most of the casualties occurred in Afghanistan, where at least 119 have been killed and 67 are reported injured, said Omar Mohammadi, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority. The avalanches, which came after heavy snowfall, have also killed an estimated 550 animals and destroyed more than 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of farmland, he said.
Mohamaddi said that most of the victims were women and children, and that deaths were reported in the provinces of eastern Nuristan, northern Parwan, Sar-e-Pul, Badakhshan and eastern Wardak.
Dozens of houses have been destroyed and people were reported to have frozen to death, trapped in cars. Rescuers are experiencing difficulty reaching trapped people, because of bad weather and snow-blocked roads.
Afghanistan’s minister of state natural disasters, Wais Ahmad Barmak, confirmed the number of dead.Heavy snow also blanketed the Afghan capital of Kabul, where the government closed its offices on Sunday.
Across the border, in Pakistan, an avalanche rocked the district of Chitral late Saturday, when most were asleep. In the high-altitude Garam Chashma area, 13 have been confirmed dead and 19 have been injured, said Shahab Ahmed, the district coordination officer of Chitral.
Heavy snowfall and rain have triggered landslides which have blocked roads in the mountainous areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. Hardships for people increased as intermittent rain and snowfall continued on Sunday. Power supply to hilly areas has been suspended.
All inter-district roads in Chitral were closed, while a major highway linking Chitral to the Dir district and another linking parts of the upper Swat valley were only open to traffic under restrictions
Flights between Islamabad and Gilgit and Skardu remained suspended for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday. Vehicular traffic between Rawalpindi and Gilgit on Karakoram Highway remained suspended.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces aid in Peshawar that relief items were being sent to Shershall and the National Disaster Management Authority had agreed to provide helicopter for rescue and relief operation.
Officials are warning of more avalanches as snow storms are continuing.