2 Canadians died in Afghan avalanches: reports
Officials tally 167 deaths in massive snowslides at key mountain pass
Rescue teams in Afghanistan near the end of the search for survivors after avalanches on a mountain pass left 167 people dead, including two women from Hamilton, Ont., according to reports.
Afghan officials said some 3,000 people have been rescued from the snowbound Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains between the capital Kabul and northern Afghanistan.
A mother and daughter from Hamilton were among those killed when two dozen snowslides hit the Salang Pass on Monday, according to reports in the Hamilton Spectator and The Globe and Mail newspapers.
Amirdad Hammady told the Spectator his mother, Basgul Hassani, 55, and his sister, Farida Hammady, 31, were among the victims of the disaster. They were reportedly on a bus en route to the Afghan city of Pol-e Khomri to visit family.
The casualty toll makes this perhaps the deadliest disaster along the Salang Pass. Last year, avalanches there claimed nearly a dozen lives.
Defence Ministry official Ahmad Zia Aftali said the government would ask the international military coalition for additional equipment, including metal detectors, to aid in the search. But Interior Ministry spokesman Zemari Bashary suggested late Wednesday the rescue operation was "95 per cent over" and winding down.
Hundreds of Afghan soldiers and police have plowed through huge snowdrifts to clear the 3.5 kilometres of road blocked after the avalanches sent snow and ice crashing onto hundreds of vehicles along a treacherous stretch of highway.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press