Afghanistan avalanches death toll passes 135

Rescuers are battling to reach survivors of , as the death toll exceeds 100 and fears grow for dozens of people still believed to be trapped beneath the snow.

Aid was being delivered by helicopter to the worst-hit province, Nuristan, where at least 64 people had been killed – including 53 in one village, the provincial governor, Hafiz Abdul Qayyom, told Agence France-Presse.

But there had been no word yet from some villages in Nuristan, which Qayyom said had received nearly 3m (10ft) of snow, with blocked roads and mountainous terrain hampering the rescue effort.

“We will evacuate wounded victims to the city of Jalalabad for treatment,” he said, adding that skies were clear on Monday.

Afghan tea seller Imran, 15, on the outskirts of Kabul on Saturday. Photograph: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images

The snowfall had blocked roads and killed at least 19 people in neighbouring Badakhshan, its provincial governor’s spokesman, Naweed Ahmad Froutan, said, adding that relief workers were struggling to deliver aid by helicopter.

The series of avalanches over the weekend , mostly in central and northern provinces. Unusually, snow also fell in the southern province of Kandahar.

The updated tolls from Nuristan and Badakhshan brought the number of deaths across the country to at least 137 by Monday, though authorities were due to update the figures later.

Officials said on Sunday that at least 54 people were killed elsewhere in the country.

Last month heavy snowfall and freezing weather killed 27 children, all under the age of five, in the northern Jawzjan province.

Avalanches are common in Afghanistan’s mountainous areas in winter, and rescue efforts are frequently hampered by a lack of equipment.

Despite receiving billions of dollars in aid after the ousting of the Taliban government in 2001, remains among the world’s poorest nations.

Source : theguardian[dot]com