Heavy snow and bitterly cold weather have caused scores of deaths and major disruption in parts of Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Pakistan.

Some areas have seen snow for the first time in years, with people struggling to keep warm in sub-zero temperatures amid power shortages.

In Iran, heavy snow over recent days has seen eight people frozen to death after being trapped in their cars.

Tens of thousands of other motorists were rescued from their vehicles.

Some desert areas in Iran reported snowfalls for the first time in living memory.

But other countries in the region have been suffering similar problems.


Central Asian nations have reported unusually cold temperatures.

In Kyrgyzstan, a government agency said 50 homeless people froze to death over the first four days of the new year.

In Tajikistan, people are struggling to keep warm in daytime temperatures as low as -10C, at a time when cutbacks in energy exports from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan mean electricity supplies have been reduced to a total of about four hours a day.

Heavy snow has also caused casualties in Afghanistan.

Five people were killed in an avalanche in the western province of Ghor, and in neighbouring Herat eight members of the same family died after their roof collapsed under heavy snow.

In many provinces, including Ghor, and Badakhshan in the north-east, a large number of districts have been cut off from their provincial capitals.

And the authorities are still trying to clear major roads in many parts of the country.

Snow has also caused disruption and casualties across the border in north-western Pakistan, with seven soldiers reported killed in an avalanche.