snow2015                                               afghan-snow2015 

Kabul, 28 February 2015 (Xinhua) -- Afghan government and scores of aid agencies have stepped up efforts to increase the emergency response to victims of deadly avalanches in eastern Panjshir province.

"The latest data showed that 250 people died as a result of recent heavy avalanches and snowfall-related incidents across Afghanistan over the past five days," Deputy to the Natural Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Mohammad Aslam Sahyas told local media.

Parts of mountainous Afghanistan have seen heavy snowfall over the past week, causing massive avalanches with snow affecting some main roads and mountain passes in 16 out of the country's 34 provinces. 

The most affected areas were in Panjshir province, where the rescue and search operation has been continuing since early Wednesday.

Four army helicopters have been involved in delivering packages of cooked food and other materials for nearly 2,000 displaced families in Panjshir over the past days, according to Sahyas.

The number of casualties of the disaster may rise further, he said.

"Over 200 bodies were found in Panjshir. Scores wounded. Dozens of people are still missing and trapped. Rescue teams failed to reach all affected districts, particularly in higher districts of the province with Bazarak as its capital, 200 km north of Kabul”.

"We lost contact with remote Paryan, Aabshar and Darrah districts. They are located in higher parts of Panjshir. Difficult terrain, narrow roads, continuation of snowing, and fears of new avalanches have been the main challenges facing our rescue teams," officials said.

"We have been working hard to coordinate efforts and provide best assistance to survivors. We have enough food. There are adequate tents, medicines and water. Shortly after the roads are reopened and we reach the affected villagers, they will receive assistance," Deputy Interior Minister of Public Works Ahmad Shah Waheed said.
" Our special teams with heavy machinery are continuing to clear roads in the narrow valleys of northeastern part of the province. They are opening the road for search and rescue teams," he told local media.

Afghan Red Crescent and a number of international aid agencies are been involved in the rescue operation and delivering assistance to the victims.