Harsh winter kills more than 750 in Afghanistan
KABUL (Reuters) - More than 750 people have perished as a result of severe cold and heavy snowfalls this winter across Afghanistan, a government official said on Saturday.
The cold spell, the worst in decades in the impoverished and mountainous central Asian country, has also killed nearly 230,000 cattle, said Noor Padshah Kohistani of the National Disaster Management Commission.
"Across the country, 763 people have died since the start of the winter due to cold weather and severe snowfalls," he told Reuters. The snowfalls have destroyed more than 500 houses and damaged more than 40,000, a disaster commission statement said.
The worst affected areas were the western provinces of Herat and Badghis where some people had to have amputations because of frostbite, according to the state media.
Several families sold their children recently because they were unable to care for or feed them, media reports said.
Many key roads linking districts with provincial capitals have been blocked because of snow, hindering deliveries of supplies.
The deaths of cattle are regarded as a huge loss for Afghanistan, an agricultural country that largely relies on foreign aid.
In the face of a harsh winter that has pushed food prices to record highs, the United Nations World Food Program last month appealed for extra food assistance for 2.55 million Afghans until the next harvest in June.
(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Bill Tarrant)