An overnight avalanche has claimed dozens of lives in a village in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Severe rain and snow have hit the region since Sunday, leaving thousands stranded.
Dozens of bodies were pulled from the wreckage of a village in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Tuesday after an avalanche hit overnight. In a statement, Pakistan's national disaster agency confirmed that the avalanche had struck a village in Pakistani Kashmir's Neelum Valley. At least 59 people were killed across the region, officials later said.
A further 15 people were killed in neighboring Afghanistan. At least 10 people were still missing.
At least six soldiers and six civilians were also killed in separate avalanches in India-administered Kashmir, Indian defense and police officials said Tuesday.
The avalanches were likely triggered by severe rain and snowfall that has plagued the region in recent days, claiming at least 126 lives in Pakistan and Afghanistan since Sunday. Over 300 houses were destroyed or damaged in Afghanistan, mostly due to their roofs collapsing under the weight of snow, according to Ahmad Tamim Azimi, a spokesman for the Natural Disaster Management Authority.
"A cold snap, heavy snowfall and rains that started two weeks ago have caused damage," he said.
Pakistan-administered Kashmir declared a state of emergency for the affected areas on Tuesday morning, the minister for the disaster management authority in the area, Ahmad Raza Qadri, said.
"Rescuers are facing difficulties in reaching the stricken villages," he said.
Evacuations via military helicopter were underway as most highways remained closed and rescuers struggled to reach people cut off by snowfall and avalanches.
Some parts of Pakistan are under six inches of snow. Temperatures on Monday reached minus 15 degrees Celsius (minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit). Forecasters warn of more bad weather in the coming days.
dj,kp/ng (AP, AFP, dpa)