Police in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar say 40 people are dead and 64 injured after an apparent truck bomb exploded. It is the deadliest blast in the country since an attack on the Indian Embassy more than a year ago.
Residents of Kandahar describe the blast as shaking the city as if a powerful earthquake had struck.
Authorities on Ogata Road describe a scene of widespread devastation with 10 residential buildings torn apart by the powerful explosion.
The blast took place shortly after dusk when Muslims were breaking their fast during the month of Ramadan.
Kandahar provincial council head Ahmad Wali Karzai, brother of the country's president, lives less than a kilometer away. He tells VOA many of the casualties are women and children.
Karzai says the blast knocked out windows and blew doors off buildings in a half-kilometer radius. He adds rescue teams are attempting to reach those trapped in collapsed structures.
Hours earlier in Kabul, election officials announced the first partial results of last week's presidential election that show the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, with a slim lead over his closest challenger.
Local authorities tell VOA the explosion in Kandahar took place equidistant from the office of a Japanese road construction company, a restaurant and the Kandahar branch of the national intelligence agency. The blast was 200 meters from a guest house popular with foreign journalists.
Police say they are unsure which building was the target, but they suspect the attack was carried out by a Taliban suicide bomber.
Kandahar, the most populous city in southern Afghanistan, is a Taliban insurgent stronghold.
The last time Afghanistan experienced a higher number of deaths in a single incident was in July last year when a suicide car bomber killed 60 people, including two senior diplomats, in an attack outside the Indian embassy in Kabul.