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2,000 missing in Afghan landslide

A landslide triggered by heavy rain buried large sections of a remote Afghan village today, killing at least 350 people and leaving more than 2,000 missing.

The governor appealed for shovels to help dig through the mass of mud that flattened every home in its path.

The side of a cliff in mountainous area in Badakhshan province collapsed onto the village of Hobo Barik province which has experienced days of heavy rain and flooding.

Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after the landslide buried 300 homes - about a third of all the houses in the area.

At least 350 people were confirmed dead, according to Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He said the UN was working with authorities on the ground to rescue people still trapped.

The governor said rescue crews were working but didn't have enough equipment.

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

The landslide was likely caused by heavy rain, said Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the province's director for National Disaster Department. He said floods last week in different districts of the province killed four people and eight more were still missing.

Authorities evacuated a nearby village over concerns about further landslides, the governor said. He said blankets and tents had been sent and about 400 people from nearby villages had gathered to help with the rescue effort.

US President Barack Obama, speaking at a White House news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, expressed his sympathy for the Afghan people.

"Just as the United States has stood with the people of Afghanistan through a difficult decade, 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," he said.

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