Afghan landslide death toll unlikely to rise above 500: Officials

AAB BAREEK, Afghanistan - Afghan officials said Saturday that a maximum of about 500 people died in a landslide that engulfed a village, updating earlier information that 2,500 people were feared dead.

"The first figure that we announced was obtained from local people, not from our technical team," Gul Mohammad Bedar, the deputy governor of Badakhshan province, told AFP.

"We think the dead toll will not rise beyond 500."

Many villagers were at Friday prayers in two mosques when they were entombed by a tide of debris, and a second landslide hit people who had rushed to assist those in need.

Rescuers abandoned the search for survivors on Saturday, with officials saying 300 people were now confirmed dead.

"Based on our reports, 300 houses are under the debris," Badakhshan governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb told reporters at the scene. "We have a list of around 300 people confirmed dead.

"We cannot continue the search and rescue operation anymore, as the houses are under metres (feet) of mud. We will offer prayers for the victims and make the area a mass grave."