Rescuers dig for survivors in Afghan avalanche village

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Afghanistan is experiencing its harshest winter for many years

Rescue teams in a remote region of Afghanistan are still searching for victims of a series of avalanches which are known to have killed 47 people.

One village near the border with Tajikistan, home to 200 people, has been completely destroyed.

The deputy governor of Badakhshan province, Shams Ul Rahman, said the chances of finding survivors from the village were fading.

"We hope some people are still alive, but they may all be dead," he said.

Badakhshan is one of the country's poorest and most remote regions.

Parts of it are shut off by heavy snow for at least six months every year.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says Afghanistan is suffering one of its harshest winters in many years.

Correspondents say the rescue effort has been hampered because all roads to and from the village are closed. Many more people in the village are missing or presumed dead.

Officials told the BBC that provincial governor Shah Wali Ullah had been visiting at the time the avalanche hit on Monday night.

He was rescued by helicopter and taken to a remote area on the border with Tajikistan.

Image source, bbc

At least 60 people have been killed by snow in Badakhshan this year, and homes and thousands of cattle have been lost.

Up to 4m (13ft) of snow is lying in some areas of the province and roads between the capital, Faizabad, and remote rural areas are impassable.

Local officials said in January that the winter conditions were at an emergency level and appealed for help.

They repeated their call last week, because dozens of homes remain at risk from further avalanches.

They said that some food, medicine and blankets had arrived from Tajikistan, but it was not nearly enough.

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