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  • Thousands reported killed in Afghanistan quake

    KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A powerful earthquake struck a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan this week, killing as many as 4,000 people, an Afghan official said as the first casualty reports emerged.

    Conflicting reports said the quake struck Tuesday night or Wednesday. The epicenter was near the Tajik-Afghan border in the mountainous province of Tahkar.

    The quake hit the city of Rustaq, 150 miles north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, destroying 15,000 homes, said Sher Mohammed, a spokesman for the anti-Taliban military alliance that controls the area.

    The anti-Taliban alliance estimated the death toll at 4,000.

    Tremors of varying intensity rocked the mountainous area for hours afterward, he told The Associated Press by satellite telephone.

    Fighting in the region and poor communications make it difficult to confirm the casualty figures. Officials with the United Nations and the Red Cross said they were unable to confirm casualty figures but were trying to arrange relief teams to travel to the area.

    The U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colorado, said the quake had a magnitude of 6.1. U.S. seismologists indicated the post-quake tremors were aftershocks, too small to register a magnitude on from the United States.

    The Taliban controls 85 percent of Afghanistan, including the capital. It is fighting against a northern opposition alliance that holds the remaining 15 percent of the country, including Tahkar province.

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