Afghanistan: 70 die from cold in freezing winter, 140 hospitalised for carbon monoxide poisoning
According to a report by AFP, at least 70 people have died due to severe cold in Afghanistan amid a wave of freezing temperatures. Since last week, mercury has plunged in Kabul and several other regions, the lowest temperature recorded was -33 degrees Celsius in the country’s central region Ghor.
The head of Afghanistan’s meteorology office, told AFP, “This winter is by far the coldest in recent years”. He added, “We expect the cold wave to continue for another week or more.” Meanwhile, the country’s ministry of disaster management said 70 people and 70,000 cattle have died over the past eight days or so because of the sudden drop in temperature.
What is happening in Herat?
At least 140 people including women and children were hospitalised for carbon monoxide poisoning at home in Afghanistan’s Herat province in the span of 24 hours, on Tuesday (January 17), said a report by TOLOnews agency citing officials. This comes as the residents of the province have been forced to use gas as their option to stay warm during the winter when the average temperature in the province drops below 10 degrees Celsius in the month of January.
“Within the past 24 hours, 130 to 140 patients have been brought to the emergency ward of the hospital,” said Ahmad Farhad Afzali, head of the hospital, as per the media report. Health officials have also attributed the rise in the number of patients to the sudden drop in temperature. Additionally, the report also says that some residents have been using coal to warm their houses which also causes carbon monoxide poisoning.
Doctors have also warned how the negligence of families about the use of gas can be deadly and causes such unfortunate incidents. “We don’t have power, and we are forced to use the gas. So far, two of my family members have died of carbon monoxide poisoning,” said Shakila, a resident of Herat province to TOLOnews.
Since the United States’ withdrawal and the Taliban’s takeover in 2021, this is the second winter that Afghanistan has faced as it continues to witness one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises with poverty, malnutrition, and more than half of the country's 38 million people facing hunger.