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Police: Avalanches kill at least 29 in Pakistan

/ Source: The Associated Press

Avalanches struck two villages in an isolated district in Pakistan's northwest, leaving 29 people dead and 14 others missing, police said Sunday.

The avalanches destroyed 19 homes late Saturday in Chitral, a rugged district near the border with Afghanistan, said Ijaz Ahmed, a senior police officer from the area.

One avalanche hit 18 homes in the village of Wasij, Ahmed said. Officers from a nearby police station as well as residents have pulled out 24 lifeless bodies, he said.

Fourteen people are missing while six people were pulled out alive, three of them with injuries, he said.

In Postaki, five members of a family were killed when a separate avalanche destroyed their home, Ahmed said by telephone.

Heavy rains and snow have been lashing Chitral, which is about 167 miles northwest of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, since late last week. In some areas, about six feet of snow has fallen over the past several days, Ahmed said.

"All the roads are blocked due to landslides. There is no (road) access to the area," he said.

Authorities are planning to send food, medicine and blankets to the two villages by helicopter on Monday because bad weather prevented flights on Sunday, he said.