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Afghanistan: 'Worst avalanche in 30 years' claims 250 lives

March 02, 2015 10:26 IST

At least 250 people have died amid massive avalanches and flooding as fresh waves of snow have hit the north east of Afghanistan.

Afghan men remove snow from the roof of a damaged house after avalanches in Panjshir province. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

More bodies have been found, including those of women and children, as rescue workers dig through the snow – according to deputy provincial chief of Panjshir province Najimudin Khan.

Afghan National Army soldiers search for bodies in the snow after avalanches struck the area. Officials have been racing against time trying to find survivors and dig out bodies from the snow. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Bulldozers and machinery have been clearing the roads of the Panjshir Valley to reach remote villages where hundreds of homes have been destroyed by the 40m high avalanches.

Mud brick houses are seen after avalanches in Paryan district of Panjshir province. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

All deaths have been attributed to the fall of snow or flooding. “We haven’t seen this much snow, or this many avalanches, for 30 years,” acting governor of the mountainous province Abdul Rahman Kabiri said.

Afghan survivors of an avalanche work among destroyed houses in the Abdullah Khil village in the Dara district of Panjshir. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Some 1,250 homes were also destroyed by the huge sheets of snow, which engulfed whole villages as they swept down from the Afghan peaks after days of heavy blizzards.

Afghan survivors of an avalanche gather as excavators clear snow from a road near Abdullah Khil village in the Dara district of Panjshir province. Photograph: Omar Sobhani/Reuters

The government declared a three-day mourning period, starting Saturday, for the dead.

President Ghani has cancelled a journey to Iran mainly because of what he explained as a national tragedy.

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