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    15 killed, 500 trapped in Badakhshan avalanches

    FAIZABAD (PAN): Fifteen people were killed as a result of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfalls in northeastern Badakhshan province, officials said on Monday.

    Another eight individuals were wounded in the natural disaster that left more than 500 people stranded and a village buried under the snow in Ishkashim district.

    Governor Shah Waliullah Adib told Pajhwok Afghan News the snowfall that started on Saturday was still continuing. "One of three men trapped under heavy snow in their house has died and another was severely wounded when they tried to come out."

    The avalanches had buried 79 houses in the Zech village, the governor said, adding that a rescue effort was underway.

    An official of the Agha Khan Foundation (AKF), Najmuddin, said a team had been dispatched to the area to evacuate the stranded residents. He had no information about fatalities, but feared the death toll could increase.

    Sanaullah Amiri, the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) regional head, said 14 people had been killed and six others wounded due to the avalanches.

    Of the 14 dead, five belonged to Raghistan district, where six others sustained injuries. Another three were killed in Yaftal Payeen district, one in Yawan district and five others in Yaftal Bala district, he said.

    On the other hand, Public Works Director Mohammad Rafiq Sherzai said snowfalls had blocked several roads in the districts, including Wardaj, Zibak, Ishkashim, Wakhan, Shaghnan, Yaftal Payeen, Raghistan, Kohistan, Yawan, Mami, Nasi, Shaki, Kofab and Khwahan.

    The director said now-clearing operations had been launched in some areas.