Days of heavy rains have triggered a landslide in Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan province, smashing through a mountain village and leaving hundreds of people missing.
"At least 400 to 500 people are still under a huge landslide, and they are all believed to be dead. This number may increase," Col. Abdul Qadeer Sayad, a deputy police chief of Badakhshan province, told Reuters.
Ari Gaitanis, a United Nations spokesman, put the toll at 350 dead following the slide that buried the village of Hobo Barik.
But Badakhshan province Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb told The Associated Press that more than 2,000 people are missing. He said some 300 homes — about one-third of the homes in Hobo Barik — had been buried.
He said rescue crews lacked the proper equipment.
"It's physically impossible right now," Adeeb told AP. "We don't have enough shovels; we need more machinery."
He said nearby villages had been evacuated as a precaution.
The AP reports:
"Badakhshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country. The area has seen few attacks from insurgents following the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
"Afghans living in the rugged mountains of northern Afghanistan are used to avalanches. The most deadly one in the past two years occurred in February 2010, when more than 170 people were killed at the 12,700-foot-high Salang Pass, which is the major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the capital to the north."
This is a breaking news story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.