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Afghanistan battles against cold and snow

Heavy snow, rain, avalanches and cold in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan have killed dozens over the past three days. The weather conditions have forced the Afghan government to declare a nationwide holiday.

Northern Afghanistan's Badakhshan province has been particularly badly hit, with as many as 19 people dying as a result of the winter weather since Friday, according to officials. The government was trying to reach at least 12 districts in the province that had been completely cut off, said a spokesman for the provincial governor, Naweed Frotan. A spokesman for the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) said 22 of the country's 34 provinces had experienced heavy snow, and that avalanches had destroyed some 20 homes. Another 50 had been heavily damaged, he said. He added that many roads, especially in central and northern Afghanistan, remained closed. The international airport in the capital, Kabul, was also closed, and the government declared a nationwide holiday on Sunday owing to the wintery conditions.

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