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Kabul (AFP) June 11, 2012
Two earthquakes destroyed dozens of mud homes in Afghanistan's mountainous Hindu Kush region on Monday, killing at least three people and trapping others under rubble, officials said.
Rescue teams were making their way to the remote Burka district in the northern province of Baghlan where around 20 houses had collapsed, the head of Afghanistan's natural disaster department, Samim Afzali, told AFP.
"We have reports of around 60 people trapped under rubble. We still don't know whether they are alive or dead," he told AFP.
The head of the provincial disaster management department said several houses and a school had collapsed but he was unable to confirm the number of people trapped.
"Our latest report from Burka shows that three people, including two women, were killed and eight injured in the quake this morning," Nasir Kohzad said.
"We've only received a phone call from a villager saying around 60 people are trapped in Mullah Jan village in Burka -- our team is about to reach there to see if that is true."
Baghlan provincial government spokesman Mahmood Ahmad said houses had been damaged in three districts -- Burka, Jelga, and Nehrin -- and casualties were feared.
Another 10 houses had been destroyed in Ishkamish district in neighbouring Takhar province, Afzali said, but no fatalities had so far been reported from that area.
The first quake, with a magnitude of 5.4, struck at 9:32 am (0502 GMT) at a depth of 48 kilometres (30 miles) with the epicentre around 160 kilometres southwest of the town of Faizabad, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Around 25 minutes later the second quake hit in almost exactly the same place, with a magnitude of 5.6 and a depth of 31 kilometres, according to the USGS.
Buildings were felt shaking slightly in Kabul, around 170 kilometres to the south, during both quakes.
Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are frequently hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range, which lies near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Pakistan in October 2005 killed 74,000 people and displaced 3.5 million.
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