Afghanistan: UN reports at least 5 dead as heavy snows block tunnel north of Kabul

Afghanistan: UN reports at least 5 dead as heavy snows block tunnel north of Kabul

At least five people, including two children, have reportedly died after being trapped in vehicles under heavy snow near a tunnel exit some 100 kilometres north of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, a United Nations spokesman said today.

Providing an update on the aftermath of the incident, the causes of which remain uncertain, spokesman Yusuf Hassan said in Kabul that as of Thursday evening 400 people had been pulled out in the rescue effort. The rescuers, who are battling ferocious winds, heavy snowfalls and temperatures of -20º C, have reached all of the 57 vehicles.

While initial reports indicated that an avalanche had struck the area, Mr. Hassan said, rescue workers now believe that heavy snows could have been blown on top of the vehicles at Qabre Kleaner, close to the southern exit of the Salang Pass.

The United Nations in Afghanistan has been coordinating the rescue effort at the request of the Interim Administration, which reported the incident late Wednesday afternoon. A UN de-mining team and a UN medical team were already at the site.