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Search on for More Quake Victims in East Afghanistan

Villagers in eastern Afghanistan are digging through the rubble of collapsed homes, searching for more victims of two deadly earthquakes that struck early Friday.

Officials said at least 21 people were confirmed dead after the tremors in the Hindu Kush region in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistan border, but local villagers said the death toll could be as high as 40.

Grieving relatives held funerals for several victims Friday afternoon, even as people continued to search the ruins of crumbled mud-walled houses for more bodies.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck first at around two in the morning local time. It was followed by a slightly less powerful 5.1 magnitude tremor two hours later.

At least 100 homes were reportedly destroyed in the quakes.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai sent condolences to the victims and ordered his government to rush emergency aid to region.

The State Department said the United States was sending a convoy of medical personnel and humanitarian supplies to the region.

Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are often hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush mountain range, where the geological formations known as the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates meet.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.