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Snow fury; Snowfalls kill more than 100 countrywide

By Mansoor Faizy-KABUL: Heavy snowfall has killed at least 100 people and blocked some major highways in different parts of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

According to several officials, women and children were among those killed in snowfalls. More than 50 others received injuries in the snowstorms.

In eastern Nursitan province, at least 50 people were killed and more than 20 others were wounded.

“Over 50 people were killed and 20 others received injuries due to heavy snowfalls and avalanches in Afsi area of Barg-I Matal district of the province,” provincial governor spokesman, Mohammad Musa Shami said on Sunday. There are no human losses in other districts, he said, while confirmed financial losses. “Operation is ongoing in the area to rescue trapped people in the district,” he added.

In northeastern Badakhshan province, at least 20 people died and 20 other were wounded as heavy snowfalls covered different areas, local officials said.

The roads to 10 districts have been blocked,” said Sayed Abdullah Hamayoun Dehqan, head of provincial disaster management department.

There were heavy snowfalls in Rostaq, Chah Aab and Chal districts, Sonnatullah Taimoor, the provincial governor spokesman said.

Furthermore, five people were killed in Herat province. Provincial governor spokesman, Jilani Farhad said that two women, a nine-year-old child and two men were killed on Saturday night I Adraskan district of the province. “They were killed after their home’s roof collapsed due to extreme snowfalls.”

Moreover, three people were killed in Baraki Barak district of central Logar province. Provincial governor spokesman, Salim Saleh confirmed and said that the roof collapse has resulted into killing three people in the district. Two people were also wounded in the incident.

Omar Mohammadi, spokesman for the State Ministry for Disaster Management of Afghanistan, said that heavy snowfalls hit at least 19 out of the 34 provinces of the county.

Despite human the snowstorm also had material loses. “50 houses have been destroyed and nearly 600 livestock of the farmers have been perished,” Mohammadi said. He added that at least six people were killed in insecure northern Sar-e-Pul province of the country. Moreover, avalanches in northern Parwan province have caused casualties and also destroyed several houses. Provincial governor spokesman, Wahid Sediqi, said that 16 people including two women have lost their lives in two separate avalanches in Surkh-e-Parsa and Sayagard districts of the province.

Moreover, the spokesman informed of humanitarian assistance to the avalanche hit people. “Health and rescue team have already deployed to the districts, they are working hard to help the victims.”

Despite blocking several roads, the avalanches had destroyed at least 30 houses in the districts, Sediqi added.

Regarding the closure of Salang Pass that connects Kabul to Northern provinces, Sediqi said due to heavy snowfalls they can’t reopen the road. “Several avalanches have been slid over the road which hampered clearing work.” It has been for days that highway is completely closed for traffic.

Furthermore, heavy snowfalls have blocked Kabul-Kandahar highway between northern Ghazni and Zabul provinces on Saturday night, where at least hundreds of passengers and vehicles were trapped there. However, the trapped passengers were hoard by army and police personnel in an overnight rescue operation.

Northern, northeastern and central provinces are annually affected by the snowfalls and avalanches in the winter, while in the spring rainfalls and flash floods sweep these areas.

Moreover, officials at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Sunday said that airport is currently closed due to snow and ice on the runway. They hoped to reopen the airport within the next few hours.

Following heavy snowfalls, the Afghan government announced Sunday as a public holiday.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, spokesman for the Presidential Palace, said that President Ghani announced Sunday as public holiday because of road blockages and other problems arisen from the snowfalls.

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