More than 160 killed in Afghanistan avalanches

Death toll from avalanches in Afghanistan rises to more than 160 as relief efforts struggle to reach villages

The death toll from avalanches in northeastern Afghanistan rose to more than 160, officials said Thursday, as rescue helicopters and trucks loaded with relief supplies struggled to reach victims in snow-logged mountain terrain.

Officials in Panjshir province, about 60 miles from the capital, Kabul, said some families were trapped in remote districts after three days of heavy snowfall. At least 40 people were reported injured, and officials said the toll could rise.

On the outskirts of Dara district, Abdul Manan, a 23-year-old student, said the heaviest snow came on Tuesday. He said rescue workers had freed 28 people in his village but that 32 remained trapped.

Villagers brought wounded, frost-bitted relatives to local hospitals. At Emergency, a hospital in the Panjshir Valley run by an Italian non-government agency, a woman named Bibi Halima arrived late Wednesday with her husband, saying they spent nearly 24 hours trapped under snow.

Doctors said she had suffered severe frostbite in her legs and would likely have to undergo amputation.

Dozens of miles of the main highway in the region were still left to be cleared, but banks of snow piled up about one foot high along the sides of the road made it difficult for trucks carrying humanitarian goods to travel.

At provincial offices in the capital of Panjshir, Bazarak, villager Bashir Osmani said 12 families comprising 87 people have been trapped in the district of Paryan for more than three days.

“The government’s help hasn’t done anything,” Osmani said, crying.

Zubair Massoud, an advisor to President Ashraf Ghani’s national security council, led a relief expedition of two trucks carrying coal, blankets, biscuits, oil, rice and flour. It was unclear how long the supplies would last the families.

Latifi is a special correspondent. Staff writer Bengali reported from Mumbai, India.

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