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MIR GADKHEL, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- Dozens of people were feared dead and scores of houses destroyed by an earthquake in eastern Afghanistan early on April 17, villagers and a Reuters eyewitness said.

A Reuters Television cameraman in the village of Mir Gadkhel said villagers were scrambling through rubble of flattened houses to recover bodies after the quake, which struck before dawn. Villagers said as many as 40 people may have been killed.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 5.1 magnitude quake hit 45 kilometers west-southwest of the Afghan city of Jalalabad early on April 17.