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Toll soars to 250 in Afghan avalanche: official

THE death toll has risen to more than 250 while a number of others remain missing after avalanches struck parts of Afghanistan over the past couple of days, an official source said on Saturday.

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

Parts of mountainous Afghanistan have seen heavy snowfall over the past weeks, with snow affecting some main roads and mountain passes.

The most affected areas were in eastern Panjshir province, where the rescue and search operation has been continuing since early Wednesday, the official told local TV channel Tolo News.

"Unknown number of people are still missing and remained trapped. Our rescue teams failed to reach all affected areas due to heavy snowfall and road blockage in the narrow valleys of Panjshir province," he said.

Rescue teams have been using helicopters to deliver packages of cooked food and other materials for nearly 2,000 families in parts of Panjshir, where heavy machinery were working to reopen roads in higher districts and villages, according to Sahyas.

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

In neighboring Takhar province, a family of four, including two children, were killed, after a gas cylinder exploded overnight on Friday, according to officials. 

The government has announced a three-day national mourning beginning from Saturday.

The electricity outage in the national capital of Kabul has remained seven to 15 hours within day as one dozen power towers were destroyed or damaged by recent avalanche in Salang Pass in Parwan province.


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