At least two people were killed and eight injured in a massive pre-dawn landslide that buried dozens of trucks waiting to cross from Pakistan to Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.
Rescuers feared more people could be trapped dead or alive beneath the rubble, and deployed sniffer dogs at the scene as workers cautiously used heavy earth-moving equipment to shift debris.
The landslide struck Torkham border post, the busiest and most important transit point for trade between the two countries, as more than 120 trucks were waiting to cross.
“We have recovered two bodies and have taken eight injured to hospital,” Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for the Rescue 1122 emergency service, told AFP.
He said it was unclear how many people may be beneath the rubble, but some survivors had reported getting phone calls from colleagues.
“They are not receiving calls any more… maybe the mobile battery of those trapped inside is dead, or maybe there is another reason,” Faizi told AFP.
Fires broke out following the landslide, the brunt of which struck about 120 metres from the main border crossing.
Drivers and their assistants were cooking pre-dawn meals on gas stoves ahead of a day of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“The fire is under control now. The rescue operation is ongoing with the help of excavators and other heavy machinery,” Faizi added.
The cause of the landslide was not immediately clear, but one official said heavy machinery had been in use for months on an expansion project in the hills surrounding the border post.
Torrential overnight rain may also have contributed, said the official, Ali Raza.