Heavy rains, snowfall leave dozens dead in Pakistan, Afghanistan

Severe winter weather kills at least 43 in two countries as authorities struggle to evacuate people to safer places.

    Pakistan's Balochistan province has particularly been hit hard with at least 14 deaths reported in the past 24 hours [Fayyaz Ahmed/EPA]
    Pakistan's Balochistan province has particularly been hit hard with at least 14 deaths reported in the past 24 hours [Fayyaz Ahmed/EPA]

    Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with heavy snowfall, rains and flash floods that killed at least 43 people, officials said as authorities struggled to clear and reopen highways and evacuate people to safer places.

    In Pakistan, where 25 people were reported killed, the southwestern Balochistan province was the worst affected.

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    Imran Zarkon, chief of disaster management in Balochistan, said 14 people have died there in the past 24 hours, mostly when roofs collapsed amid heavy snowfall.

    A heavy snowfall had forced the closure of many highways and some parts in the province were under six inches (15cm) of snow.

    Pakistani paramilitary soldiers remove snow from roads near the Afghan border in Chaman, Pakistan, 12 January 2020. Reports state that many cities in Pakistan are experiencing unusual cold weather con
    Pakistani paramilitary personnel remove snow from roads near the Afghan border in Chaman on Sunday 2020 [Akhter Gulfam/EPA]

    Eleven people were killed in the eastern Punjab province when the roofs of their houses caved in under heavy 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, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

    In western Herat province, seven people died, including five members of the same family, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, a spokesman for the provincial police chief.

    Three people were killed in southern Helmand province, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

    Residents of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where the temperature dropped to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads.

    SOURCE: AP news agency