Avalanches in Pakistan kill at least 77 people

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The avalanches were triggered by heavy snowfall in the Neelum Valley in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, local authorities said.

Dozens of homes were destroyed and buried in the snow, with most people killed and injured in their homes when avalanches hit, said Ahmad Raza Qadri, state minister for disaster management and rehabilitation.

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The death toll may continue to rise as there are fears that many people are still in prison.

After that, desperate residents made a search and rescue attempt to find those buried in the avalanche, carrying shovels and walking in deep snow.

Emergency personnel are also on site responding to the crisis. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that he had called on the national disaster agency, the military and federal ministers to provide humanitarian assistance to affected residents.

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Authorities fear more may be dead, buried under snow.

Several of the injured victims were transported by army helicopters to the region's capital Muzaffarabad for treatment, and more helicopters launch essential food and supplies for snow-cut residents.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan extended his condolences to those affected, adding that his government "would leave no stone unturned to alleviate the suffering of the affected population."

Avalanches occur during one of the most severe winters in 20 years. Everyday life in Pakistani-administered Kashmir had been severely affected, with snow-blocked roads, inactive communication services and power outages.

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The avalanches were triggered by heavy snowfall in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in the Neelum Valley.

Separately, in southwestern Balochistan province, 16 people died within 48 hours this week of rain and snow related incidents, said Imran Zarkoon of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority.

Heavy snowfall is normal for this time of year, said Zaheer Ahmed, director of the capital's National Weather Forecast Center, Islamabad. But "due to climate change, this year the intensity of the cold is much higher than in previous years."

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