A powerful earthquake has struck central Afghanistan, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 30, officials said.

The quake of 5.3 magnitude hit the highly mountainous Samangan province, northwest of the capital, Kabul, early on Monday.

The earthquake was felt in Kabul as well as neighbouring countries of Uzbekistan and Tajikstan.

Ghulam Sakhi Baghlani, a local administrator of Samangan, said three districts in the region were affected most.  

"Seven people were killed and 34 have been wounded. Forty houses have collapsed," Baghlani said.

He also said more than 300 homes had been damaged.

Security forces have been dispatched to rescue victims and check on the damages.

But Baghlani said rescue efforts have been blocked in one of the districts due to quake-sparked landslides that impeded access to it.

The restriction is making even more arduous what is an eight-hour drive along winding mountain trails from the provincial capital of Aybak.

The casualty toll could increase, Baghlani added.

Central & South Asia
Deadly earthquake hits Afghanistan
At least seven killed and dozens wounded after quake hits central Samangan province.
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2010 10:02 GMT
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