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July 25, 2017

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2,000 missing in Afghanistan after landslide triggered by heavy rain

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A landslide triggered by heavy rains buried a village Friday in northeastern Afghanistan, leaving as many as 2,000 people missing, a top official said.

Badakshan province Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after a hill collapsed on the village of Hobo Barik. Adeeb said the landslide buried some 300 homes in the area — about a third of all houses there.

The governor said rescue crews were working but didn't have enough equipment, appealing for shovels.

"It's physically impossible right now," Adeeb said. "We don't have enough shovels; we need more machinery."

He said authorities evacuated a nearby village over concerns about further landslides.

Faziluddin Hayar, the police chief in Badakshan province, said the landslide happened about 1 p.m. Friday.

Badakshan 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.

CNN earlier reported that an Afghan official said that at least 2,700 people were believed to have been killed before issuing a clarification reducing the number of possible deaths to "hundreds." The channel attributed the statement to an unnamed "provincial governor."

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.

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