MOSCOW (AP) — A Kazakhstan emergency official says seven army soldiers have died in an avalanche in the ex-Soviet republic's southern mountains.

Kazakhstan Emergencies Committee spokesman Ruslan Imankulov told Russian news agencies that rescuers saved 16 other soldiers who had been trapped by the avalanche. The committee said the soldiers were taking part Friday in military maneuvers in the area, which is 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Almaty, Kazakhstan's principal city.

The government in the Central Asian nation has ordered an investigation into the deaths.

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