Official says avalanches in Afghanistan kill 21 people

An Afghan official says several avalanches that struck in a single day in a central province killed 21 people

According to Ahmad Tameem Azimi, spokesman of the ministry for disaster management, seven people remain missing following the avalanches in central Daykundi province on Thursday while 10 were injured.

The 21 killed were all from two families in the area, Azimi said. At least 50 houses were destroyed. Azimi added that search and rescue teams have been working since Thursday to find the missing and help the victims.

He said the number of dead was expected to climb with cold weather and difficult conditions hampering rescue efforts. Most highways have been closed for weeks, due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches.

Afghanistan has suffered through more than four decades of war and conflict since the Soviet invasion in 1979. But natural disasters such as landslides, floods and avalanches have also taken a heavy toll on a country with little infrastructure or development outside of its major cities. Environmental degradation has also worsened the problems.