“Ordinary people and government employees are using shovels and bare hands to rescue those who are still trapped under the snow.” – governor Abdul Rahman Kabiri
According to local officials, heavy winter snow caused large avalanches that killed at least 124 people in Northeastern Afghanistan. Rescuers and local people are scrambling to save dozens more people currently buried under snow in their homes.
“People there have told me that two of my relatives have been killed and eight others are still under the snow. My son and I are trying to get through to see if we can help find their bodies. But it will take us at least three or four hours to get there because of the snow and the road is very narrow, so we have to walk, the car can’t get through.” – Sharafudin
Large avalanches buried many homes in four northeast provinces, burying and killing those inside reports Mohammad Aslam Syas, the deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority. Pansjshir province (60 miles northeast of the Afghan capital of Kabul) was hit the hardest with over 100 homes destroyed by avalanches.
“We’ve had no help yet from the authorities, no medicines, no machinery to open the roads so we can get to the buried houses.” – Sharafudin
Bare hands and shovels are being used to rescue buried persons. Rescue teams have been dispatched to the devastated areas. Casualties are unfortunately expected to rise as the rescue effort uncovers more bodies.
Heavy snowstorms began on Tuesday and haven’t ceased. This has greatly impeded all rescue efforts. Up to 3.3 feet of snow has fallen on many valley floors and many downed trees has made access to the Panjshir zone an absolute battle.
The Dara district of Panjshir is reporting up to 600 families being affected by avalanches.
Massive fatalities from avalanches is common in Afghanistan’s mountainous regions. In 2012, 145 were killed in the northeast of the country. In 2010, 165 people were killed on Salang Pass in the Hindu Kush mountains.