Survivors from Afghan Badakhshan avalanche rescued

Afghan rescue workers, file image Afghanistan is experiencing its harshest winter for many years

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Scores of people have been rescued from an avalanche that engulfed a village of 199 people in Afghanistan's northern Badakhshan province, officials say.

Hopes had been fading that any survivors from Shekai village would be found, but on Thursday rescue teams brought 160 people to safety.

About 39 people died in the accident close to the border with Tajikistan. Earlier reports said 47 had died.

Badakhshan is one of the country's poorest and most remote regions.

Parts of it are shut off by heavy snow for at least six months every year.

Details are sketchy but reports from Badakhshan say that all the survivors are still in the village and are being cared for by doctors and nurses who have been flown in by helicopter.

Afghanistan is suffering one of its harshest winters in many years.

About 180 people have been killed by snow in Badakhshan this year, and homes and thousands of cattle have been lost, officials say.

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Up to 4m (13ft) of snow is lying in some areas of the province and roads between the capital, Faizabad, and remote rural areas are impassable.

Local officials said in January that the winter conditions were at an emergency level and appealed for help.

They repeated their call last week, because dozens of homes remain at risk from further avalanches.

They said that some food, medicine and blankets had arrived from Tajikistan, but it was not enough.

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