Severe weather in Afghanistan, Pakistan leaves 43 dead

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AP) — Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with heavy snowfall, rains and flash floods that left at least 43 dead, officials said yesterday as authorities struggled to clear and reopen highways and evacuate people to safer places.

In Pakistan, where 25 people were reported killed, much of the damage struck southwestern Baluchistan province. Chief of Provincial Disaster Management Imran Zarkon said 14 died there in the past 24 hours, mainly when roofs collapsed amid heavy snowfall.

Heavy snowfall had forced closures of many highways and some parts in the province were under six inches of snow. Eleven people were killed in eastern Punjab province when their roofs caved in under strong rains, said Abdul Sattar, an official with the state-run emergency service.

In Afghanistan, at least 18 people, including women and children, died on account of the severe weather, according to provincial officials. Hasibullah Shaikhani, a press officer with the State Ministry for Disaster Management, said most of the highways in Afghanistan were closed due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches.

Of the Afghan casualties, eight people were killed in southern Kandahar province, said Bahir Ahamdi, spokesman for the provincial governor. In western Herat province, seven people died, including five members of the same family, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Three people were killed in southern Helmand province, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Residents of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where temperatures dropped to -15 degrees Celsius, abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads.

People walk on a road during heavy snow fall in Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. PHOTO: AP