The death toll continued to climb Tuesday in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and neighboring Afghanistan after severe winter weather combined with a harsh cold snap led to numerous avalanches across the region.
The impact was most severe in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, where 55 deaths were reported in a 24-hour period, according to Waseem Uddin, a spokesman for Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority.
Among those, 41 died in a single avalanche in the Neelum Valley while 14 people died elsewhere in the region, Uddin told The Associated Press.
In neighboring India, at least 10 people were killed after several avalanches hit the northern part of Indian-administered Kashmir, Reuters reported.
A state of emergency has been declared in Kashmir as officials work to reach the remote villages affected by the latest avalanches.
Avalanches are common in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India and is claimed by both.
“Rescuers are facing difficulties in reaching the stricken villages,” Ahmad Raza Qadri, the minister for the disaster management authority in Kashmir, said Tuesday.
The latest deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan raise the two countries’ overall death toll from the severe weather to 126 since Sunday.
The severe winter weather combined with bitterly cold temperatures have led to highways blocked due to heavy snow, forcing officials to suspend transportation of essential goods into Afghanistan. Military helicopters are being deployed to help evacuate people cut off by the heavy snowl.
“We are distributing emergency assistance, including cash to families of the victims,” Tamim Azimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Natural Disaster Management Authority, told Reuters.
So far, about 300 houses have been damaged across Afghanistan because of snowfall, floods and landslides, the agency said. On Monday, residents of the Afghan capital, Kabul, where temperatures dropped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads.
Much of the damage by the storms was caused in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, where at least 20 people were killed in the past 24 hours because of roofs amid winter’s unusual snowfall.
Uddin said that some parts of the province saw six inches of snow.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.