An Afghan official says dozens of people are feared dead in an avalanche that buried some 60 homes in the northeastern Panjshir Valley.

Acting Gov. Abdul Rahman Kabiri said at least 30 people were killed and that rescuers were using their bare hands and shovels to try to reach survivors.

Emergency officials could not immediately be reached to confirm the toll, which is expected to rise.

Large swathes of Afghanistan have been covered in snow over the past 24 hours as a major storm has interrupted an otherwise mild and dry winter. Avalanches are common in Afghanistan's mountainous north.