Six killed, 30 trapped in Afghanistan avalanche, says provincial official

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - KABUL, Feb 19 — An avalanche has killed at least six people and trapped 30 more in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan, a provincial official said today, after swaths of the country saw heavy snowfall.

“It is still snowing. Rescue efforts are under way and the number of dead may increase,” provincial head of information and culture Jamiullah Hashimi told AFP.

The avalanche swept through the village of Nakre in the Tatin valley of Nuristan overnight on Sunday, blanketing homes in snow and rubble.

Around 20 houses were destroyed or heavily damaged, Hashimi added.

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“Due to clouds and rain, the helicopter cannot land in Nuristan,” said Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Adel, the head of public works in the province, adding that snow had blocked one of the main roads into the province, making “the rescue operation difficult”.

Nuristan province, which borders Pakistan, is mostly covered by mountainous forests and hugs the southern end of the Hindu Kush mountain range.

This year, the arrival of snow was delayed across much of Afghanistan, which is accustomed to harsh winters.

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The exceptionally low level of rain in a country that relies heavily on agriculture has forced many farmers to delay planting.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries, wracked by decades of war, prone to natural disasters and vulnerable to extreme weather events linked to climate change.

Once flush with humanitarian aid following the US-led invasion of the country, funding to Afghanistan has plummeted since the Taliban returned to power in mid-2021, in part over the many restrictions it imposed on women. — AFP

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