DUSHANBE, December 24, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- Heavy snowfall on December 23 caused an avalanche on the Shahriston Pass in the Sughd province that blocked in several places the highway from Dushanbe to Khujand, Asia-Plus has learned from Mahmadullo Halimov, the first deputy head of the Committee for Emergency Situations (CES).

“The avalanche blocked the section of the Dushanbe-Khujand highway from the 192nd to the 201st kilometer,” said the emergency official, “One resident of the Shahriston district is reported missing and the search-and-rescue operation is under way.”

According to Vladimir Bogumanov, the head of the head of monitoring service within the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), seven snow-removers are involved in clearing the pass of snow.  Three of these snow-removers were provided by China’s company, which is implementing the Dushanbe-Khujand-Chanak road rehabilitation project.

In the meantime, Tajik meteorologists warn of further avalanches in the coming days and people are being advised not to travel unnecessarily.