Avalanche kills 37 in Afghan village
Kabul - An avalanche has buried a village in northeastern Afghanistan, killing at least 37 people and leaving dozens more still trapped under the snow, officials said on Tuesday.
The avalanche slammed into the village in Shekay district of mountainous Badakhshan province late on Monday after days of heavy snowfall were followed by a rise in temperature, said provincial spokesperson Abdul Rauf Rasekh.
Afghanistan's harshest winter in 15 years has already claimed scores of lives, with the latest avalanche taking the total death toll to at least 80 in Badakhshan alone, he said.
"Thirty-seven bodies, including women and children, have been recovered from under the snow so far," Rasekh said, adding that search and rescue teams were desperately digging for survivors.
But it was feared that the death toll would rise sharply as dozens of villagers remain trapped under the snow, he said. Six injured people had been evacuated to neighbouring Tajikistan for emergency treatment.
Heavy snowfalls and avalanches kill scores of people in Afghanistan each winter, but the death toll has been higher than usual this year.
Thirty-five children died over two days in remote districts of Badakshan in late February after roads to districts were blocked by heavy snow, officials said.
And in Kabul, 24 children died in refugee camps on the outskirts of the capital, which houses thousands of Afghans fleeing war and Taliban intimidation in southern Afghanistan, according to officials.