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Over 2000 feared dead after massive landslide in Afghanistan

Former town declared mass grave as as rescuers suspend digging efforts.
By Matt Bradwell   |   May 3, 2014 at 10:00 AM  |  Updated May 3, 2014 at 10:12 AM   |   Comments

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HOBO BARIK, Afghanistan, May 3 (UPI) -- Up to 50 meters of mud stands between rescuers and the missing after yesterday's massive landslide in Afghanistan buried nearly 3,000 people in the nation's Badakhshan province.

The United Nations confirmed at least 350 dead as of Friday, with that number expected to grow between 2,000 and 2,700 as more bodies are recovered.

600 residents of a nearby village came to the site to assist rescue efforts, but have since had to stop due to lack of proper equipment and fear of another landslide.

"It's physically impossible right now," provincial police Chief Fazluddin Ayar told reporters. "We don't have enough shovels; we need more machinery."

President Obama acknowledged the tragedy during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying, "I want to say on behalf of the American people our thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan who have experienced an awful tragedy."

"Just as the United States has stood by 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."

The landslide occurred about 1 p.m. local time on Friday. The first rescuers are believed to have been killed in additional landslides shortly after they arrived at the village.

Follow @mckb26 and @UPI on Twitter.
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