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Deadliest avalanche: Highways reopening efforts heightened, says Abdullah

KABUL: The Chief of Executive Officer (CEO) of the country Abdullah Abdullah on Sunday said the government is utilizing all available resources to reopen the roads and provide humanitarian assistance in the avalanches-hit areas of Afghanistan.

In a press conference here, the CEO said the teams are clearing the roads of snow. After chairing meeting of the emergency committee established by the government, Abdullah told reporters that 196 persons have been killed and 23 other were injured alone in Panjshir province.

He said that scores of people were killed and injured in avalanches, heavy snowfall and floods in different parts of the country. The roads in villages and districts are still closed. Around 40km of the Panjshir highway is still to be cleared of snow.

“Several countries and Afghan businessmen have shown their willingness to provide relief aid to the natural disaster-hit areas. Local businessmen have already provided aid in cash to the affected families,” Abdullah said, adding that the Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of Rural Development and Rehabilitation are trying to reopen the ways leading to villages and districts. Although, the damages have not been estimated but orchards, crops, small hydropower dams and large number of houses have been destroyed in the affected provinces, particularly in Panjshir. The Salang tunnel was reopened after several days of blockage, said the CEO.

According to a press release, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has sent 10 mobile health teams to Panjshir province. The teams would provide basic healthcare services to the residents.

The statement said that these teams were flown through helicopters to the targeted areas due inaccessibility to the troubled areas via roads. Every team is consisted of a doctor, a nurse and necessary medicines.

Dr. Ahmad Jan Naeem, MoPH Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning also visited Panjshir province in order to further address health problems avalanche-hit families.

Attending the emergency coordination meeting held in the provincial headquarter, the deputy minister has also assured the preparedness and measures of the MoPH for addressing health problems of the victim families.  The statement adds that health emergency kits have been dispatched to the province.

MoPH’s ambulances have been deployed the areas near the avalanches-hit villages. Local health facilities and Panjshir neighboring provinces’ hospitals are ready for providing health care services to those injured in the avalanche. Considering the country’s weather situation, the MoPH’s health teams have also been deployed in other provinces including Nuristan and Badakhshan for responding the emergency situations and natural incidents. Panjshir, Baghlan, Laghman, Badghes, Farah, Badakhshan, Parwan, Faryab, Nangarhar, Uruzgan, Takhar, Herat, Bamyan are included in 29 provinces were affected by heavy snowfall and rains.

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