926 killed in coldest winter in living memory

Other News Materials 17 February 2008 06:43 (UTC +04:00)

( Gulf ) - The death toll from Afghanistan's harshest winter in recent living memory has hit 926, an official said on Saturday, adding the figure could rise further as access to remote areas improves with the thawing of snow.

More than 316,000 cattle had perished since the onset of winter in mid December, Noor Padshah Kohistani of the National Disaster Management Commission said.

"Now we know that 926 people have been killed. Over 200 other people have been wounded in cold and other related incidents such as avalanches and snowstorms," said another official, Ahmad Hamraz.

"The figure for human losses could go higher, for roads have been reopened and we will find unreported fatalities," said Kohistani.

Authorities last week reported 760 people had died from the cold and Hamraz said dozens had their hands or toes amputated due to frostbite.

Nearly half of the victims came from western areas where more than 90 people have had their fingers or toes amputated because of frostbite.

Apart from human losses, the deaths of cattle are regarded as a huge loss for Afghanistan, an agricultural country that largely relies on foreign aid.

The United Nations World Food Programme last month appealed for extra food assistance for 2.55 million Afghans until the next harvest in June.

Authorities said earlier that nearly half the villages in western Afghanistan had been cut off from major cities due to heavy snowfalls, which were two metres deep in some areas.

More snow is expected in coming days in several parts of the Central Asian country which may trigger floods and avalanches.