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Earthquake Follows Floods, Avalanches In Afghanistan --> NATO forces helping flood victims in southern Afghanistan late last month (NATO) Faisabad, April 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Northeastern Afghanistan, already suffering from recent floods and avalanches, has been struck by a strong earthquake.

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent was in the capital of Badakhshan Province today when a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the area.

Dayan Ahmadi says he felt the ground shaking for about two minutes.

"As the earthquake occurred, I was in the middle of Faisabad," Ahmadi says. "I saw with my own eyes that parts of mud-brick walls were collapsing. However, the damage to buildings and houses in the town was not too severe."

Ahmadi says reports of more severe damage are expected once information from more remote parts of the northeastern province trickles in.

Such information often is slow getting through to Faisabad because the mountainous area is not covered by Afghanistan's patchwork of GSM cellular telephone networks.

Ahmadi reports that the quake's epicenter appears to have been in the Hindu Kush mountains, about 70 to 100 kilometers south of Faisabad.

Local officials say the districts close to the epicenter appear to be Pran, Munjan, Dara Anjuman, and Yemgan.

But Ahmadi was able to reach Dara Anjuman's local police chief, Abdul Malik, via satellite phone. He says lingering snow is likely to complicate rescue and relief efforts.

"Because of the heavy snow in this area, all roads to these districts have been blocked," Ahmadi says. "There also have been two large avalanches that have killed at least two people and destroyed at least 50 houses there."

Indeed, during the past two weeks, flooding and avalanches across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan have killed about 150 people.

Ahmadi reports that the death toll from the floods and avalanches in Badakhshan has been high.

"From recent floods and avalanches, authorities confirmed that a total of 21 people have been killed in Badakhshan and around 30 people have been injured," he says.

The flooding and avalanches also have destroyed hundreds of houses across Badakhshan Province, along with livestock and hundreds of hectares of agricultural land.

(RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan in Prague also contributed to this report.)

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