KABUL, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan struggled to dig out from heavy snow on Sunday, with dozens of people reported killed and some major highways closed.
Heavy snow also blanketed the Afghan capital of Kabul, where the government closed its offices.
In northern Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, over the past two days as many as 19 people were killed and 17 injured by avalanches, collapsed roofs and road accidents, said Naweed Frotan, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
The government was working to reach at least 12 districts in Badakhshan that had been completely cut off, he added.
On the other side of the border, at least nine people, including children, were killed by an avalanche in northern Pakistan’s Chitral district, with as many as 14 residents still trapped in collapsed houses, said district official Syed Maghferat Shah.
“So far the rescue workers have recovered nine bodies and efforts are under way to retrieve more,” he said.
The snow wreaked havoc on major roads in Afghanistan, including the Kabul-Kandahar Highway, where police and soldiers had to rescue around 250 cars and buses trapped by the storm, said Jawid Salangi, a spokesman for Ghazni province, where as much as two metres of new snow was reported.
“Some people were carried to local residents’ houses and some to military and police checkpoints,” he said, noting that officials expected the road to reopen quickly. “Fortunately we arrived on time and there is not a single causality.”
The Salang pass north of Kabul was also closed under as much as two and a half metres of snow, according to police general Rajab Salangi, who oversees the area.
“It will remain blocked until the snow is cleared from the main road, facilities are provided and it is safe to travel,” he said. (Reporting by Mirwais Harooni in Kabul and Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, Pakistan; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Nick Macfie)