A string of avalanches and snowstorms killed scores of people in Afghanistan in the past two days, blocking key roads across the country and canceling all flights at Kabul’s airport, officials said Sunday.
About 50 people died on Sunday in avalanches in one village in the rugged and remote province of Nurestan, its governor, Hafiz Abdul Qayoum, told Radio Liberty.
There were reports of deaths in Parwan province, to the north of Kabul; in Badakhshan province, in the northeast; and in several other parts of the country. The total number of dead was about 100, the minister for national disaster management, Wais Ahmad Barmak, told reporters.
His deputy, Mohammad Aslam, said that scores of houses were destroyed or damaged by the disaster.
"We have to complete an assessment of the situation and send emergency aid where we can as soon as possible,” Aslam said by phone.
The inaccessibility of some mountainous areas and the closure of many roads linking scores of villages with provincial capitals were obstructing the delivery of aid to areas where it was badly needed, he said.
Dozens of cars and buses were stranded for hours along one highway west of Kabul while heavy snow fell, measuring a yard and a half in some places. The Salang Tunnel, which links Kabul with the northern region, was closed, witnesses and officials said.
Ice and snow shut Kabul’s airport. The power supply was also interrupted in some areas of the capital.
Despite the loss of so many lives, the snowfall was welcomed by many across Afghanistan, which is suffering from years of drought and acute water shortages.