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Friday, May 2, 2014 - 2:06pm
(CNN) -- — Hundreds of people are thought to be dead or trapped after landslides Friday in a mountainous, remote part of far northeastern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said.
An initial landslide crashed down on an area of about 300 homes before noon in the district of Argo in Badakhshan province, governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb said, citing reports from district representatives. However, it remains unclear how many of the homes were affected.
A subsequent landslide then trapped hundreds of people who had come from nearby areas to help dig people out of the first slide, Adeeb said.
Local officials estimate that the 300 homes would have been home to five to seven people each, Adeeb said. It wasn't clear exactly how many people were buried in the slides, and no official death toll was immediately available.
Efforts to get rescue workers to the site will be difficult because of the mountainous terrain and remote location, Adeeb said.
The United States is "ready to help our Afghan partners as they respond to this disaster," U.S. President Obama said Friday outside the White House.
"I want to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan, who have experienced an awful tragedy," Obama said during a wide-ranging news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Badakhshan, bordered by Tajikistan to the north and Pakistan to the south, is a sparsely populated region comprising a majority Tajik population and an Uzbek and Kyrgyz minority. Badakhshan was the only province that was not controlled by the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan.