Search for Afghan avalanche survivors
Mazar-I-Sharif - Afghan villagers searched desperately for survivors on Wednesday after deadly avalanches killed at least 42 people in three remote northeastern villages, authorities said.
The worst hit was Shirin Nazem village, home to more than 200 people in Shekay district of the mountainous Badakhshan province, which was buried after days of heavy snowfall were followed by a rise in temperature.
Local villagers, without help from the army or police, had recovered 37 bodies but there were fears the toll could rise sharply, local officials said.
Five other people were killed in smaller avalanches in nearby villages, said provincial spokesperson Abdul Rauf Rasekh.
"We are trying to get to the village, provide assistance and help with the rescue. We will bring a helicopter there," the head of the Badakhshan Red Crescent, Sayed Naser Hemat, said.
"Villagers are digging in the snow, trying to rescue people buried there," he said, adding that details were hard to come by because of the remoteness of the area.
Afghanistan's harshest winter in 15 years has already claimed scores of lives, with the latest avalanche taking the total death toll to more than 80 in Badakhshan alone.
Thirty-five children died over two days in remote districts of Badakshan last month 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.