More Than 300 Killed, Thousands Missing in Massive Afghanistan Landslides

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Hundreds of people are feared dead after dual landslides came down on 300 homes in a remote village in Afghanistan, local officials report. 

CNN reports that according to Badakhshan province governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb, the first landslide took place before noon, and the second landslide happened shortly after -- burying as many as 600 people who had come to the village of Hobo Barik in search of survivors of the first event (Reuters has since reported that those who went to the site after the first landslide were residents returning to their homes to recover livestock and belongings. The outlet did not report how many people did so.) The disaster was likely triggered by heavy rains. 

Adeeb said that rescue teams are working to help free survivors buried in the rubble, but that they are short on supplies. "It's physically impossible right now," he said, adding, "we don't have enough shovels; we need more machinery." He added that he does not think it is likely that people buried by the landslides will be found alive. 

It's unclear how many people may have been killed or injured in the landslides, but casualties could top 2,000, per CNN

Local officials estimate that the 300 abodes would have been home to roughly five to seven people each, Adeeb said. It wasn't clear exactly how many people were buried in the slides, and no official death toll was immediately available.

The BBC notes that because most Afghans have Friday off, it is likely that many people were home when the landslides happened. Afghan news agency Pajhwok offers a similar estimate to CNN: 

And Agence France-Presse is reporting at least 350 dead: 

Badakhshan, a mountainous province bordered by Tajikistan, Pakistan and China is one of the most remote in the country and one of the few to have been largely spared from insurgent attacks. 

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Update 4:43 p.m.: According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 350 people were killed in the incident. Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial governor, told Reuters that more than 2,000 people are still trapped in the rubble. Forotan said: 

There were more than 1,000 families living in that village. A total of 2,100 people -- men, women and children -- are trapped... as the part of the mountain which collapsed is so big, we don't believe anyone would survive. The government and locals from surrounding villagers are helping with the rescue, and so far they have recovered more then a hundred bodies.

President Barack Obama offered his condolences over the disaster, saying today that "we stand ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster, for even as our war there comes to an end this year, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people will endure." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.