At least 350 people were killed and several hundred more are missing and feared dead after a village was buried by a huge landslip in a remote region of Afghanistan, officials said Friday.
One-third of the 1,000 homes in the village were completely covered by mud several feet deep, local police told NBC News.
Rescue teams have been dispatched to Aabe Barik in the Argun district of the mountainous Badahkshan province, but heavy rains are making access difficult.
A United Nations spokesman said at least 350 people were killed, but province governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said the toll could be as high as 2,500.
Ari Gaitanis, from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, told Reuters the U.N. is working with authorities on the ground to rescue people still trapped.
Adeep said rescue crews did not have enough equipment and appealed for shovels.
"A mountain part slid down. Washing off the entire village,” he told NBC News. “According to our estimates the village [comprised] about 300 families and an estimated population of 2,000 people including women and children.
“About 500 people from a neighboring village rushed to the scene to help any survivors. As they were trying to help, another part of the valley slid down -- killing almost everyone.”
He added that the national army and police are there trying to help rescue survivors, but that except for seven people who were pulled out alive earlier, they have not been able to rescue anyone. The entire area appears to be buried under about 160 feet of rubble.
Badahkshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan to the east, 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.
President Karzai has assigned a high-ranking delegation to travel to the province and the country’s defense ministry has been ordered to use all its resources to help in the rescue and supply aid to the affected area.