Death toll at 196 from Afghanistan avalanches

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Authorities fear the toll from deadly avalanche will grow higher

Panjshir is a small, mountainous province in Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan CNN  — 

For a third day in a row, heavy snowstorms caused avalanches in the Panjshir province on Thursday, bringing the total to 168, officials said.

They began Tuesday, continued Wednesday and two more avalanches took place Thursday, said provincial Gov. Abdul Rahman Kabiri.

Rescue operations and emergency assistance by air and ground are still ongoing, Hakimi said.

Authorities fear the toll will grow much higher since rescue personnel are yet to reach the worst affected areas.

President Ashraf Ghani, who visited the area on Saturday, declared three days of mourning in Afghanistan for the victims.

Panjshir is a small, mountainous province north of the capital, Kabul. Its residents are generally poor, earning their living as farmers, shepherds or operators of small businesses such as groceries.

CNN’s Masoud Popalzai reported from Kabul, Afghanistan and journalist Naomi Ng wrote from Hong Kong.