KABUL: Helicopters ferried rescuers to and bodies away from the site of a massive avalanches that blocked an important mountain pass north of Kabul as the death toll soared on Wednesday to 166, said officials. Hundreds more remained trapped in snowbound cars.

Afghan army troops dug through huge snowdrifts trying to rescue people from buried vehicles in the Salang Pass, a key road that connects the Afghan capital with the north. The 4 km of road subsumed in the avalanches has been cleared of snow, but is littered with abandoned or snow-packed cars that still make much of it impassable, said Public Works Minister Suharab Ali Safari.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said rescuers had recovered 166 bodies from the Salang Pass, 115 km north of Kabul, over the past two days. — AP