Scores are believed to have died in a quake in northern Afghanistan. The rescue mission is ongoing and the United Nations is preparing to respond with aid.
An earthquake that ripped through an isolated area in northern Afghanistan is feared to have killed at least 80 people, provincial officials said Tuesday.
"We don't think we will be able to take out the other bodies," the governor of struck Baghlan province, Abdul Majid, said. "They might be dead as there is a lot of soil and removing this is very, very hard. We have sent excavators to the area but I don't think they will be able to do much as there is a lot of soil."
He added that the corpses of two women had been pulled from the wreckage and 20 people were in hospital getting treatment for injuries. The rescue team were only equipped with one bulldozer for removing the rubble that covers the trapped victims.
Two shallow earthquakes, of magnitudes 5.4 and 5.7, triggered a deadly landslide in a remote village in Baghlan province within the Hindu Kush mountain region, burying 22 bodies, according to governor Majid.
The two quakes occurred within 30 minutes of each other, said the US Geological Survey. The tremors were felt as far away as the capital Kabul, which lies 170 kilometers south of the epicenter.
The United Nations said it was cooperating with officials in the affected region to ascertain what aid is required.
Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes, with the Hindu Kush coinciding with the meeting point of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. In October 2005 a larger earthquake, magnitude 7.6, claimed the lives of 74,000 people and left 3.5 million displaced.
sej/msh (Reuters, AFP)