The Afghan government has declared a nationwide holiday as heavy snowfall and avalanche hit several parts of the country including capital, Kabul. Dozens of deaths have been reported in parts of the country in snow-related incidents.
Several key highways have been shut across the country with normal life crippled due to snowfall. Many districts in different provinces have been totally cut off and authorities are unable to reach them. The Hamid Karzai International Airport has been sealed and flight operations have been suspended. At least 50cm of snow has covered the runway, local reports suggest, as authorities are working to get the facility operational as early as possible.
Though the death toll from various districts remains unclear, local government official Syed Maghferat Shah said rescue workers have so far recovered nine bodies and efforts are under way to retrieve more. The federal and local administrations have been urging the public to be careful while travelling in the poor weather conditions.
President Ashraf Ghani held an emergency meeting late on Saturday, 4 February to discuss the situation. The country's chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, the ministers of natural disaster management, rural development, and public works as well as top security officials took part in the discussions.
"Some people were carried to local residents' houses and some to military and police checkpoints. Fortunately, we arrived on time and there is not a single causality," another local government official from Ghazni province told Reuters. Reports of avalanches burying homes and people have begun to emerge in the past few days amid worsening conditions.