"The picture we saw was frightening. The village of Nura is fully destroyed, 100 percent, there are many injured," he said.

Attempts by the emergency services to help those in Nura, which is home to 950 people, are being complicated by a lack of access to the village.

"Efforts to assist the victims are being complicated by the distance of the villages ... from hospitals, by a lack of  communications and by the destruction of the roads," Dinara Sagynbayeva, a health ministry official, said.

Those in Nura who were injured in the earthquake are being transported by helicopters to a medical centre 220km away in the main regional city of Osh, Tashiyev said.

"The helicopter will make as many flights as needed to transport wounded people needing medical attention to the regional centre," he said.

Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked and mountainous nation of five million people, is one of the poorest states of the former Soviet Union.