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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 09:53 GMT
Scores dead in Afghan cold snap
By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kabul

A beggar sitting in the snow in Kabul
Authorities have put out an alert to combat cold-related diseases
The number of people who have died due a cold snap in Afghanistan has risen to 200, government officials say.

Four large provinces in the western part of the country have been especially badly hit. Tens of thousands of livestock have also perished.

Local people are saying the winter conditions have been the most severe in decades. The cold spell is also affecting neighbouring countries.

People seem to have been unprepared for the heavy snow and low temperatures.

Most of the 200 dead are herdsmen - but women and children have also died.

Alert

Much of the west is quite low-lying by Afghan standards and the International Committee of the Red Cross says many people only expect a day or two of snow each winter.

Tens of thousands of sheep, vital for local livelihoods, have also perished in the cold.

At the other end of the country, the north-east, people say recent snowfalls have been the heaviest for 20 years.

A local member of parliament has told the BBC that many villages in this rugged territory are completely cut off and in need of food and medicine.

In the capital, Kabul, where temperatures are dropping, dozens of families who have fled the violence in Helmand in the south, are camping in tents in the streets, dependent on charitable handouts of clothing and food.

The central government has put health workers on alert to combat respiratory diseases caused by the wintry weather around the country.



SEE ALSO
Snow causes many deaths in Asia
11 Jan 08 |  South Asia
Dozens killed in Iran blizzards
09 Jan 08 |  Middle East



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