Afghan officials gave up hope of finding any survivors yesterday following a landslide in the remote north-east, putting the death toll at more than 2100, as rescuers turned their attention to helping roughly 4000 people displaced in the disaster.

Officials expressed worry that the unstable hillside above the site of the disaster may give way again, threatening the homeless as well as the United Nations (UN) and local rescue teams that have arrived in Badakhshan province, which borders Tajikistan.

"More than 2100 people from 300 families are all dead," said Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial governor.

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Villagers and a few dozen police, equipped with only basic digging tools, resumed their search when daylight broke but it soon became clear there was no hope of finding survivors buried in up to 100 metres of mud.

An elderly woman, her hair covered in a pink shawl, said: "Seven members of my family were here, four or five of them were killed ... I am also half alive, what can I do?"

The UN mission in Afghanistan said the focus was now on more than 4000 people who have been displaced, either directly as a result of Friday's landslide or as a precautionary measure from villages assessed to be at risk.

Their main needs are water, medicine, food and emergency shelter, said Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The impoverished area, dotted with villages of mud-brick homes nestled in valleys beside bare slopes, has been hit by several landslides in recent years.

The side of the mountain above Ab Barak collapsed at around 11am on Friday as people were trying to recover belongings and livestock after a smaller landslip occurred a few hours earlier.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed in the landslides that were triggered by torrential rain.

Officials worry that another section of the mountainside could collapse at any time.

Rescue teams had to be flown into the area yesterday by the Afghan military, as the remote mountain region is served by only narrow, poor roads which have been damaged by more than a week of heavy rain.

Hundreds of people camped out overnight in near-freezing conditions, although some were given tents.