KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- More than 900 people have died as a result of the bitter cold and blizzards engulfing central and western Afghanistan this winter -- considered the worst in three decades, Afghan authorities said on Friday.
Shikeeb Amraz, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Commission, said 926 people have lost their lives, 231 people were injured, and more than 1,000 houses were destroyed or damaged.
Around 316,000 animals -- mostly sheep, goats, and cattle that are herded by the poor peasants throughout the rugged and poverty-stricken region -- have died, he said.
Temperatures in the mountainous regions hit hard by the cold snap have reportedly been as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, or minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Remote regions have been hit badly by heavy snowfall and avalanches. Many people live in poor structures without protection and many of the animals have no shelter at all.
Now that the snow is thawing and roads are slowly re-opening, authorities are gradually gaining access to the most affected areas and are collecting more accurate figures of the deaths and damage.
The Public Health Ministry said more than 170,000 patients with pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections have been diagnosed and treated at hospitals around the country in the past two months. Many people lost fingers and toes to frostbite.
Aid workers from the government, non-governmental organizations, and foreign troops and provincial reconstruction teams have been responding to the emergency. Among the provinces hard-hit are Herat, Farah, Badghis, and Ghowr. E-mail to a friend