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Dozens killed in avalanches and heavy snow across Kashmir

Sky News logo Sky News 14/01/2020

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Dozens have died and many more are missing across Kashmir after avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall and rain across the region.

Some 59 were killed in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir, while another 10 are reported dead on the Indian side of the region.

In Pakistan, officials said villagers were stranded by the avalanches in the Neelum Valley area of the region, after heavy rainfall triggered landslides.

a group of people sitting in the snow: Workers clear the destruction in the path of the avalanches © Getty Workers clear the destruction in the path of the avalanches Rescuers saved dozens of people from the snow, but officials fear that many people are still missing and feared dead as a result of the natural disaster.

More heavy snowfall is expected on Friday, leaving emergency services with a scramble to provide relief to locals.

At least 53 homes have been completely destroyed, according to regional officials.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "I have asked the National Disaster Management Authority, the military and all our federal ministers to immediately provide all humanitarian assistance on an emergency footing to the affected people in [Kashmir]."

a man riding a snowboard down a snow covered slope: Teams working in the Neelum Valley to rescue people and provide relief © Reuters Teams working in the Neelum Valley to rescue people and provide relief

In the west of Pakistan, heavy snowfall in the Balochistan region killed 17 people and destroyed several homes. An emergency has been declared in the area.

In the past fortnight, severe weather and cold temperatures also led to the deaths of 39 people in Afghanistan, according to the country's Natural Disaster Management Authority in Kabul.

A spokesman said they are "distributing emergency assistance, including cash to families of the victims", but also noted that the conditions have made it difficult for teams to get to victims.

a pile of snow next to a car: Avalanches in Kashmir, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have left several dead © Getty Avalanches in Kashmir, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan have left several dead

Major roads that connect Pakistan and Afghanistan have been blocked due to the snowfall, meaning the transporting of essential goods between the two countries has been halted.

Kashmir, a historical region centred around the Kashmir Valley, is claimed by both India and Pakistan, while many Kashmiris want to live in an independent country.

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