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Cold spell claims over 1,100 lives in Afghanistan

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KABUL, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - The amount of people killed by freak freezing weather in Afghanistan since December last year has risen to over 1,100, the country's Ministry for Emergency Situations said on Wednesday.

This winter is the coldest in the last 30 years in Afghanistan, with temperatures reaching lows of -30 degrees Centigrade (-22 Fahrenheit) in 17 of the country's 34 provinces, national weather authorities said.

Avalanches and heavy snowfall have also destroyed some 1,000 homes in the impoverished country, and over 300,000 cattle have died. More than half of the casualties have been reported in the western province of Herat.

Local meteorologists said over half of the country's provinces would be hit by severe flooding when the snows started to melt.

People in Afghanistan's northern provinces, stricken with hunger and cold, have apparently even taken to selling their children to buy bread and coal. At least six cases have been reported in the Baghlan province. Aid workers have also reported being attacked by starving Afghan mountain dwellers.

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