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Severe winter kills 300 Afghans over 10 days

APTOPIX Afghanistan Cold
This Afghan girl had no shoes as she waited in the cold on Jan. 25 for food aid in Kabul.Rafiq Maqbool / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Some 300 Afghans have died in the past 10 days from bitter cold and heavy snow across the country, the Health Ministry said Monday.

Officials said the dead included nomads who live in tents and villagers cut off from food and medical aid because heavy snow had blocked roads.

Faryab province in northwest Afghanistan is covered in a 20-inch-deep blanket of snow, said Gov. Mohammad Omar.

"This is a grave crisis," he said. "Sixty percent of the roads to the remote villages are cut off by the snow."

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Afghans in remote villages are typically able to heat their mud-brick homes only by burning animal dung or wood, if the family can afford it.

Afghan officials reported on Jan. 15 that 85 people had died in the previous days from heavy snow, avalanches and cold weather.

The Afghan government and NATO's International Security Assistance Force have been providing emergency supplies to areas hard-hit by the weather, but provincial officials said the aid has not been reaching some areas fast enough.