29 Killed in Pakistan Avalanche

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Avalanches struck two villages in an isolated district in Pakistan's northwest, leaving 29 people dead and 14 others missing, police said Sunday.

The avalanches destroyed 19 homes late Saturday in Chitral, a rugged district near the border with Afghanistan, said Ijaz Ahmed, a senior police officer from the area.

One avalanche hit 18 homes in the village of Wasij, Ahmed said. Officers from a nearby police station as well as residents have pulled out 24 lifeless bodies, he said.

Fourteen people are missing while six people were pulled out alive, three of them with injuries, he said.

In Postaki, five members of a family were killed when a separate avalanche destroyed their home, Ahmed said by telephone.

Heavy rains and snow have been lashing Chitral, which is about 167 miles northwest of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, since late last week. In some areas, about six feet of snow has fallen over the past several days, Ahmed said.

"All the roads are blocked due to landslides. There is no [road] access to the area," he said.

Authorities are planning to send food, medicine and blankets to the two villages by helicopter on Monday because bad weather prevented flights on Sunday, he said.

Relief efforts are likely to be hampered by blocked roads and broken down telephone lines. The main communication link for information from the avalanche-hit area is the police's radio network, Ahmed said.

Chitral, in North West Frontier Province, is nestled in the Hindu Kush mountains that also stretch into Afghanistan.

In winter, heavy snow often blocks a mountain pass that connects Chitral's with rest of the country, leaving the isolated region to dependent heavily on air transportation.