Humanitarian Crisis Feared As Afghanistan Avalanches Kills Over 120 People

While deadly avalanches are common in Afghanistan's high mountainous areas in winter, it's the worst in last 30 years.

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Avalanches caused by heavy snow have killed at least 124 people in northeastern Afghanistan, the NYT reported. According to local officials the death toll is expected to rise.

Large parts of Afghanistan have been covered in snow as a major storm interrupted an otherwise mild and dry winter.

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Most of the victims were in Panjshir province north of Kabul, where two days of heavy snow have blocked main roads and made it difficult for rescue workers to reach the affected villages.

The report comes as rescuers clawed through debris with their hands to try to save those who are buried under the snow

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers search for bodies in the snow.

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The avalanches buried homes across four northeast provinces

Mohammad Aslam Syas, the deputy director of the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority, gave the death toll. He says some 100 homes were destroyed or damaged in Panjshir province alone. That’s about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of the capital, Kabul.

While deadly avalanches are common in Afghanistan's high mountainous areas in winter, it's the worst in last 30 years

According to officials, so far 31 bodies had been recovered by locals and government workers digging by hand

Afghan clean snow from their rooftops in a village close to an avalanche site in Panjshir province north of Kabul

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“We have gathered 300 people to help with the rescue, but we don’t have the equipment we need,” he added. As temperatures plunged well below freezing, workers continued to toil into the night to rescue at least 28 people still believed to be trapped in their houses buried under the snow.

Around 30 people were also suffering from frostbite and other injuries after being rescued. The incident has triggered a 'humanitarian crisis'.

Despite the billions of dollars in aid from the international community after the collapse of the Taliban, Afghanistan remains among the world’s poorest nations after decades of conflict.

Rescue efforts after disasters such as avalanches and flash floods, which often hit as snows melt in the spring, are frequently hampered by lack of equipment. Poor infrastructure makes it difficult for rescue teams to reach isolated areas.

Previously, a blizzard and avalanche in Nepal's Himalayas climbing region had killed at least 20 trekkers