- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2010

KABUL (AP) — Avalanches roared down a mountain pass north of Afghanistan’s capital killing at least 28 people and stranding another 1,500 in their vehicles on snow-blocked roads, officials said Tuesday.

Another 70 people were injured and transported to hospitals as the military and police continued rescue efforts to dig out those trapped in the snow, an Afghan Defense Ministry statement said.

The avalanches struck Monday following heavy snow in the Salang Pass that links the Afghan capital Kabul with the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

In a statement, President Hamid Karzai ordered the ministries of public works, defense and disaster control to “use all possible means to get the roads unblocked and rescue those trapped and stranded in the heavy snow.”

He also expressed condolences to the families of the victims who were killed or injured.

About 100 Afghan soldiers were mobilized to join police and others in the rescue efforts, along with four helicopters, several ambulances and several bulldozers, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said.

“Unfortunately there were more avalanches this morning, which made our work a little difficult, but we are trying to rescue people,” he said.

Rescuers worked through the night to save more than 200 people, said Gen. Abdul Rahman Sayedkhail, Parwan provincial police chief.

“There’s still danger from avalanches there so that’s why our work is a little slow,” Rahman said.

Military helicopters were dropping food packages to people stuck on snow-blocked roads, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary said.

Earlier, Afghan reports said some 300 cars and buses were trapped on the mountain pass.

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