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Hundreds Feared Dead In Afghan Landslide

Afghan villagers gather at the site of a landslide in the Argo district in Badakhshan Province on May 2.
Afghan villagers gather at the site of a landslide in the Argo district in Badakhshan Province on May 2.
Authorities in Afghanistan say they fear that hundreds of people may have been killed by a landslide in the northeast of the country that has buried a village.

The landslide on May 2 was a remote district of Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan Province.

Badakhshan Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after the landslide destroyed the village of Hobo Barik.

Adeeb said rescue crews were working but did not have sufficient equipment.

"We don’t have enough shovels, we need more machinery," Adeeb said.

Help from Kabul is not expected to arrive until May 3

The deputy police chief of Badakhshan Province, Abdul Qadeer Sayad, said at least three bodies had been recovered so far and about 100 people were being treated for injuries.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a statement saying, "The number of deceased has increased to 350 and significant displacement is expected."

The statement said the UN is working with authorities in the affected area to provide help to those who have been displaced by the disaster but the UN cautioned while "road access to affected area is secondary but good, it cannot take heavy machinery."

In Washington at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his condolences to those who suffered as a result of the landslide.

Calling the landslide an "awful tragedy," Obama said the United States stands ready to help Afghanistan respond to the disaster.

Badakhshan is located in the rugged Pamir Mountains bordering Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China.

Heavy rains across northern Afghanistan are already being blamed for the deaths of five people on May 2 and for displacing hundreds of families.

That weather has further complicated an already difficult situation for residents of four northern and northwestern provinces of Afghanistan -- the provinces of Jowzjan, Faryab, Badghis, and Sar-e Pul -- where flash floods in the past 10 days have killed more than 100 people and displaced thousands.
With reporting by AFP and AP