Afghanistan Hit by Fresh Avalanches

Afghanistan Hit by Fresh AvalanchesAfghanistan Hit by Fresh Avalanches

Huge new avalanches hit Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley, closing off areas that were already difficult to reach, the provincial governor said on Sunday.

Abdul Rahman Kabiri said the new avalanches - 40m high - have inundated new areas n the north-eastern province, BBC reported. President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday that at least 286 people have died throughout the country in recent days. The fatalities have all been due to snow or flooding, according to officials. Most of the deaths however are in the Panjshir Valley, where it is feared people remain trapped in the snow.

Some progress in the relief effort has been made - a long stretch of road up the Panjshir Valley has been opened by bulldozers and other machinery.

In places the bodies of victims including women and children have been unearthed. Officials say the worst-hit place, Paryan, remains unreachable.

The air force is dropping food parcels to seven badly-affected villages and has continued to rescue marooned people not just in Panjshir but in several other provinces where there have been casualties.

Afghanistan has begun three days of national mourning for the victims. President Ghani cancelled a trip to Iran because of what he described as a national tragedy. Avalanches are relatively common in northern Afghanistan, with dozens dying in major incidents in 2010 and 2012. However, Panjshir province is reported not to have seen avalanches on this level for three decades.