Afghanistan avalanches: More than 180 feared killed in deadliest avalanches for 30 years

Rescue teams are struggling to reach the affected areas in northern Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

More than 180 people have reportedly been killed in the worst avalanche in three decades in northern Afghanistan.

The avalanche may be the worst to hit the mountainous Panjshir region, north of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, in thirty years.

Rescuers are reportedly using their bare hands to dig people out of collapsed buildings.

Local officials have said that they expected the total number of dead to rise and warned that there was an imminent humanitarian emergency in the region, which is forecast to endure more heavy snowfall in the coming days.

“We haven’t seen this much snow, or this many avalanches, for 30 years,” acting governor of the mountainous province Abdul Rahman Kabiri told Reuters.

Avalanches are common in the northern regions of Afghanistan but the sudden intense snowfall after a mild winter surprised many residents.

Rescue teams have been sent to the four affected provinces but causalities were expected to rise, Mohammad Aslam Syas, the deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority, told Al Jazeera.

The teams must clear their way through 25 miles of snow before they can reach the affected area.

Yesterday Mr Kabiri told the BBC rescuers were doing everything they could to get to the disaster.

"We have tried to clear the central road of the province to pave the way for assistance to get through. The assistance, however, has not yet arrived."

Decades of conflict has weaken Afghanistan's infrastructure. Natural disasters, such as avalanches, can exact a heavy toll from the ordinary population.

Additional reporting by Press Association and Reuters