A series of avalanches killed at least 21 people in Afghanistan's Daykundi province, authorities confirmed on Friday, February 14, 2020. The death toll is feared to climb as severe weather conditions hamper rescue efforts.
Ahmad Tameem Azimi, a spokesman of the ministry for disaster management, said seven others are still missing while 10 people were injured from the incident that occurred on Thursday, February 13. The 21 fatalities were from two families, he added.
The avalanches reportedly destroyed at least 50 homes.
Search and rescue operations have been underway since Thursday to locate the missing victims. Azimi said the number of deaths is expected to jump due to the harsh weather conditions that are making rescue efforts difficult.
Authorities have closed most highways due to heavy snowfall and fears of further avalanches.
Local communities in #Daikundi have started to slowly and carefully open up the roads to reach affected areas. Risk of further avalanches remains. Picture by Disaster Risk Mitigation Committee in Chonghori village pic.twitter.com/wbravmD3Ub— Oxfam in Afghanistan (@OxfamAfgh) February 14, 2020
1/2 The man wrapped in blanket was rescued from avalanche after 20 hrs. But sadly, dozens more, including some of this man's family members, have lost their lives to avalanche in several villages in Daikundi. pic.twitter.com/CiHxJCBMxc— Jawad Zawulistani (@Jawadniki) February 14, 2020
TRAGEDY! The poorest part of the country is hit by deadly avalanche. Daikundi, Hazaristan, central highlands of Afghanistan. There’s no paved roads to reach that part of the country. The poor farmers have to deal with this deadly disaster all alone. #Avalanchedaikundi pic.twitter.com/s09BpVbTf4— Atiq Lotan (@LotanAtiq) February 13, 2020
The winter in Afghanistan has been brutal and deadly-- it has sparked flash floods, triggered avalanches, and dumped heavy snowfall across the country.
In the past two months, the death toll from such calamities has climbed to 72, including the 21 deaths on Thursday.
Among the fatalities were two pregnant women who died "because of their inability to reach to hospital for delivery," said Assadullah Sarwari, regional head of the Afghanistan Disasters Management Authority.
In addition, 2 400 houses have been washed away in flash floods since the beginning of the winter season.
Featured image credit: @Jawadniki/Twitter