KABUL: The death toll from three days of heavy snow across Afghanistan rose to 54 on Sunday and there were fears the toll could rise as rescuers began clearing roads to remote areas. Avalanches destroyed scores of homes and blocked roads in central and northeastern provinces, a spokesman for the ministry of natural disasters told AFP. “So far, 54 persons have lost their lives and 52 were injured as a result of avalanches and freezing weather in 22 provinces,” said Mohammad Omar Mohammadi. He said 168 houses were destroyed and 340 cattle killed. Authorities fear the toll may rise sharply because rescue crews have yet to reach some of the worst-hit areas. In the badly hit northeastern province of Badakhshan at least 18 people, including three women and two children, were killed when avalanches hit their houses overnight, said provincial spokesman Naweed Frotan. “Several dozens are still trapped, we are trying to rescue them,” he said, adding that many roads were still blocked. Five people were killed by avalanches in the Balkhab district of Sari Pul province in northern Afghanistan and at least 70 people trapped under the snow were being rescued, said provincial spokesman Zabiullah Amani.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.