Avalanche blankets Afghan village, kills 47

Though avalanches are fairly common in the mountainous north, deaths were seen as particularly painful.

Kabul: Rescuers shovelled through deep snow
today searching for victims of an avalanche that destroyed a
village of 200 people in northeastern Afghanistan, authorities
said. Forty-seven people have been confirmed dead.

"We hope that some people were inside their homes and are
still alive," said Shams Ul Rahman, the deputy governor of
Badakhshan province, where the avalanche occurred on Sunday
night. "But if the snow was too heavy, they may all be dead,"
he added.

The Defence Ministry was sending helicopters to Dasty
village in Badakhshan`s Darzab region today to help with the
rescue effort, Rahman said.

People from a nearby village were the first to reach the
site. They were joined yesterday by rescue workers from Darwaz
district, who walked for two days to reach the remote area.

About 100 rescuers equipped only with shovels were
digging through mounds of snow looking for anyone who might
have survived, Rahman said. He said initial reports were that
only three women and one child survived the avalanche. They
were not in the village of Dasty at the time.

Mohammad Daim Kakar, general director of the Afghanistan
National Disaster Management Authority, said at least 47
people have been confirmed dead.

The US Embassy in Kabul expressed condolences to the
families of those killed in the avalanche. USAID`s office for
disaster assistance was planning to send supplies, such as
tents and plastic sheeting, through a partner in Tajikistan to
help the people in the area.

Deadly avalanches are common in Afghanistan`s mountainous
north in winter. In February 2010, an avalanche killed more
than 170 people at the 3,800-metre high Salang Pass, which is
the major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects
the capital to the north.

At least three avalanches struck the Darzab area on
Sunday, said Abdul Marouf Rasekh, a provincial spokesman. The
provincial governor was visiting the area when the avalanches
started and was briefly stranded in a nearby village, Rasekh

The governor and his team yesterday made their way to
Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, which is the closest city to the
avalanche area, he said. Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb was
expected back in Faizabad today.

In Kabul, Badakhshan lawmaker Fawzia Kofi appealed to the
international community for help in the rescue effort. She
said the only rescuers who have so far been able to reach the
avalanche site were people from surrounding villages

"Nobody except local people have managed to get to that
village, walking 11 hours," Kofi said. She added that
Badakhshan has had a particularly deadly winter, with more
than 200 people killed by avalanches in the past months.