The death toll from powerful earthquakes in western Afghanistan is estimated to be 2,000, a senior Taliban leader said, adding that the number might rise further in one of the deadliest quakes to hit the country in two decades.

Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesperson based in Qatar, told Al Jazeera that many people were missing and rescue operations were ununder way to save people trapped in debris in the wake of a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in Herat province.

Shaheen said there was an urgent need for tents, medical and food items in the areas hit by the disaster, as he appealed to local businessmen and NGOs to come forward to help people in need.

Earlier, Abdul Wahid Rayan, spokes man at the Ministry of Information and Culture, told The Associated Press that more than 2,000 people were killed in the quake and strong aftershocks.

About six villages have been destroyed and hundreds of civilians have been buried under the debris, he said, calling for urgent help.

The country’s national disaster authority said on Saturday the earthquake had killed about 100 people.

Later on Saturday, the United Nations gave a preliminary figure of 320 deaths.

However, it later said the figure was still being verified, while the Red Crescent said 500 people were killed.