Kabul: The death toll from massive avalanches
that blocked a mountain pass north of Kabul soared to 166, as
hundreds more remained trapped in their snowbound vehicles,
Afghan officials said on Wednesday.
Afghan army troops dug through huge snowdrifts today
trying to rescue people from buried vehicles in the Salang
Pass, a key road that connects the Afghan capital with the
north. Helicopters ferried rescuers to the scene and brought
down the bodies.
Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said rescuers
have recovered 166 bodies from the Salang Pass, 115
kilometers north of Kabul, over the past two days.
Some of the victims were found frozen to death inside
their vehicles, while in other cases, their bodies were strewn
along the road, he said.
Bashary said today that the rescue operation was "95
per cent over," suggesting authorities did not expected
further significant increases in the death toll.
At a press conference in Kabul, Bashary said 2.5
kilometers of road have been cleared for ambulances,
bulldozers and other road-clearing equipment to get through.
About 2,600 people have been rescued so far, he said.
A series of avalanches that were triggered Monday along
the 3,800-meter pass closed off roads and stranded hundreds of
people in snowbound vehicles.
More than two dozen avalanches had poured tons of snow
and ice on the pass, blocking off 3.5 kilometers of road and
burying hundreds of vehicles.