Heavy snow kills 28 in Afghanistan (Lead)February 9th, 2010 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS
Kabul, Feb 9 (DPA) Twenty-eight people were killed in avalanches in northern Afghanistan as rescuers pulled out 1,500 passengers stranded at a snow-blocked mountain pass, officials said Tuesday.
The avalanches took place Monday afternoon on Salang road after heavy snow, at 3,300 metres where it passes through a 5-kilometre tunnel and links capital Kabul to the northern region.
Some 600 rescuers, including police and army forces and local residents, worked throughout the night and pulled out 1,500 of survivors buried under thick blanket of snow, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi said.
“Seventy people were injured and 28 others were martyred in the incidents,” Azimi said.
General Kabir Adarabi, the provincial police chief of northern province of Baghlan, said that a number of people were killed by avalanches that buried their vehicles, while several others froze to death due to acute cold weather Monday night.
“Around 100 vehicles are still trapped in the snow-blocked road near the main tunnel, but the strong snowstorm in the area hampers the rescuing teams’ advance,” he had said earlier.
President Hamid Karzai expressed grief over the deaths and “ordered relevant authorities to make every effort possible for a quick reopening of the tunnel and provide help to those in need,” the presidential palace said in a statement.
Abdul Matin Edraak, head of National Disaster Management Centre said that at least 17 avalanches were reported until Monday evening, while there were several collapses Tuesday.
He said more than 200 passenger vehicles and trucks were trapped inside the main tunnel.
Soldiers and police were mobilized to join other rescue workers in the area, Azimi said, adding that four army helicopters, dozens of ambulances and bulldozers were also rushed to the area.
Officials in the area said that the rescue efforts were still underway, and hope that they could clear the road before dusk.
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Tags: army forces, army helicopters, avalanches, azimi, blanket of snow, capital kabul, cold weather, defence ministry spokesman, disaster management centre, hamid karzai, heavy snow, national disaster, northern afghanistan, northern province, provincial police, relevant authorities, rescue efforts, salang, thick blanket, weather monday