A string of avalanches and snowstorms has killed scores of people in Afghanistan in the past two days, blocking key roads across the country and cancelling all flights at Kabul Airport.

Some 50 people lost their lives to avalanches in the rugged and remote province of Nurestan in one village today, its Governor, Hafiz Abdul Qayoum, told Radio Liberty.

There were reports of deaths in Parwan, to the north of Kabul; Badakhshan in the northeast; and several other parts of the country. The total number of dead is about 100, the minister for national disaster management, Wais Ahmad Barmak, told reporters.

His deputy, Mohammad Aslam, said scores of houses were also destroyed and damaged by the disaster.


"We have to complete an assessment of the situation and send emergency aid where we can as soon as possible," Aslam said by phone.

The inaccessibility of some mountainous areas and the closure of many roads linking scores of villages with provincial capitals were obstructing the delivery of assistance where it is badly needed, he said.

Dozens of cars and buses were stranded for hours along one highway west of Kabul while heavy snow fell, measuring a yard and a half in some places. The Salang tunnel, which links Kabul with the northern region, was closed, witnesses and officials said.

Ice and snow shut Kabul Airport. The power supply was also interrupted in some areas of the capital.

Despite the loss of so many lives, the snowfall was welcomed by many across the disaster-prone country, which is suffering from years of drought and acute water shortages.