Avalanches Kill 36 in Afghanistan, Tajikistan

Avalanches in northeast Afghanistan have killed at least 18 people and destroyed dozens of homes in the past week, a provincial governor said Wednesday.

In neighboring Tajikistan, rescuers Wednesday recovered the bodies of six more avalanche victims, raising the death toll there to 18, an official said.

Afghan rescue teams have been unable to reach the villages in Badakhshan province because regional roads have been blocked by snow, Gov. Abdul Majid said.

The deadliest avalanche hit before dawn Tuesday and covered five villages in Ragh district. Locals recovered 13 bodies and were still searching for an unknown number of missing people, Majid said.

Five people were killed in Darwaz district Sunday when an avalanche hit, he said.

News of the disasters took days to reach the outside world because the area has no phones or other means of communication, the governor said.

In Tajikistan, district emergencies chief Ikhom Tursunov said 36 people were buried by snow when their village in the Dzhigartal district was hit by an avalanche. Tursunov said 18 people were rescued but that 18 others died.

Tursunov said that according to preliminary information another avalanche had buried about 30 houses in a nearby village, but rescuers hadn't yet been able to reach the area.

Heavy snow falls have blanketed much of northern and eastern Afghanistan, and avalanches are common in Tajikistan, a mountainous Central Asian nation.