Death toll in Afghan avalanches reaches 157
The death toll in a series of avalanches in northern Afghanistan reached 157 Wednesday as rescue efforts were ongoing to extricate any possible survivors, officials said.
Dozens of avalanches on Monday struck the Salang Pass, a mountainous area at an altitude of 3,300 metres where a 5-kilometre tunnel links the capital, Kabul, to the northern parts of the country, DPA reported.
More than 130 bodies had been taken south to Parwar province while the remaining victims were moved to Baghlan province in the northern part of Afghanistan's highest pass, said Zamarai Bashary, an Interior Ministry spokesman.
Around 50 bodies, including five women and one child, were pulled from the snow Wednesday afternoon, said Abdul Basir Salangi, Parwan's provincial governor. The bodies had been found in a bus and three small vehicles buried under a blanket of snow, he said.
He said the rescue teams also evacuated three comatose passengers to a hospital in Charikar, the provincial capital of Parwan.
More than 600 army and police forces and dozens of local residents began the rescue operation Monday afternoon and so far extricated 2,600 people from snow-blocked roads. At least four NATO helicopters and two Afghan military choppers were also involved in the operation.