Rescue operations are underway in Afghanistan's eastern province of Panjshir which was struck by a massive avalanche last week, killing some 200 people.

Najimudin Khan, deputy provincial police chief of Panjshir, said that as rescue workers dig through the snow, they are uncovering more bodies, including women and children.

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Destroyed mud brick houses are seen after avalanches in Paryan district, Panjshir provinceOmar Sobhani/Reuters
Afghanistan avalanches
An aerial photo shows the path of an avalanche in Paryan district, Panjshir province, north of KabulShah Marai/AFP
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Survivors of an avalanche search their destroyed houses in Abdullah Khil village, Dara districtShah Marai/AFP

The Afghan military has cleared parts of the roads leading to the most-affected area, and is using helicopters to drop supplies including food, blankets and medicine to the trapped villagers.

Villagers waited on rooftops, waving in desperation as helicopters swooped low over the avalanche-struck region. All around them, homes, people and livestock had vanished under the snow.

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Avalanche survivors standing on the roofs of their houses look on as an Afghan army helicopter delivers relief goods in Paryan districtShah Marai/AFP
Afghanistan avalanches
Survivors of an avalanche run to get relief goods distributed by an Afghan army helicopter in Paryan districtShah Marai/AFP
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People walk along a path in the snow after an avalanche in Abdullah Khil villageOmar Sobhani/Reuters
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Afghan women make their way along a path cleared through an avalanche site in Dara Keraman districtShah Marai/AFP
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People remove snow from the roof of a car after avalanches in Panjshir provinceOmar Sobhani/Reuters
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Avalanche survivors stand on roof of their house in Abdullah Khil villageShah Marai/AFP
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Afghan survivors of an avalanche work among destroyed houses in Abdullah Khil village in Dara districtOmar Sobhani/Reuters
Afghanistan avalanches
A boy looks through items recovered from destroyed houses in Abdullah Khil villageOmar Sobhani/Reuters

Najibullah Haidery, head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, said the scale of the disaster was staggering. Many among those who survived "managed to flee from their destroyed homes and buried villages, and now they have nothing".

Hundreds of villages and thousands of people have been stranded without food or fresh water, and communication lines are down.

The avalanche killed many of the villagers' animals. "People living here largely depend on these livestock, and they have no other source of income. Now they've all died in the disaster, and without money, how are they going to make a living in the future?" Abdul Jalil Ahmadi, governor of Paryan district, said.

Nationwide, the death toll from avalanches and flooding rose to at least 247 people, the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority said.

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Afghan men carry the body of an avalanche victim after funeral prayersShah Marai/AFP
Afghanistan avalanches
An empty stretcher is seen near the site of a funeral ceremony for the victims of avalanches in Panjshir provinceOmar Sobhani/Reuters

Natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches have taken a heavy toll on a country with little infrastructure or development outside of its major cities. Environmental degradation has worsened the problem in the north.

Among recent major natural disasters in Afghanistan was a massive landslide in May that killed hundreds. Some estimates suggest that 2,700 people died, although there has never been a definitive count.