Death toll from Afghan avalanches tops 200: officials

An Afghan girl carries shovels in a village close to an avalanche site in Panjshir province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. AP Photo.

More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall around Afghanistan, officials said Feb. 26, warning the death toll could rise still further.
      
The bulk of the deaths came in Panjshir province, north of Kabul, where at least 168 people were killed, acting provincial governor Abdul Rahman Kabiri told AFP.
      
The avalanches came after days of heavy snow, which destroyed more than 100 homes in the province and blocked main roads, making it difficult for rescue workers to reach the stricken villages.
      
"Our death toll has risen to 168 people killed in avalanches in Panjshir province," Kabiri said, warning that the figure may rise in the coming hours.
      
"We have not seen this much snow in Panjshir, or this many avalanches, for decades," Kabiri added.
      
Elsewhere, 18 died in the remote northeastern province of Badakhshan and 12 in Nuristan province in the north. Six were killed in the central province of Bamiyan, four in Laghman and one in Nangarhar, both in the east -- bringing the total toll to at least 209.
      
Rescue teams are still working to recover dead bodies and survivors trapped in Panjshir, but deep snow has hampered efforts to reach isolated villages.
      
Funerals for the victims began on Thursday afternoon in the Panjshir village of Khinj, north of Bazarak, the province's main town.
                      
Two helicopters have brought relief aid to Panjshir from Kabul, and distributed it among the affected families, but supplies were limited.
      
Much of the digging was being done by shovel or even bare hands, Kabiri said, though an AFP photographer saw mechanical diggers at work in several places in...

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