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Two earthquakes in Iran kill 300, injure 2,600

Updated: 2012-08-12 14:25
( Xinhua/Agencies)

TEHRAN - The death toll of Saturday's strong twin quakes in northwest Iran has risen to some 300, the semi-official Fars news agency cited an official as saying on Sunday.

Reza Sadiqi, the governor of Ahar county in East Azerbaijan province, told Fars that the number of fatalities in the quake-stricken regions amounted to 300.

Also, an official from Iran's Red Crescent Society told semi-official ISNA news agency that some 2,600 others were injured.

The quakes, which jolted East Azerbaijan province, damaged some 110 villages, Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Qaddami told Fars earlier in the day.

At least 12 villages had been levelled thoroughly, while 60 others were damaged 50 percent to 80 percent in Ahar region in the province, Fars said.

Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi said medical assistance was being dispatched to hospitals in the three northwestern provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan and Ardebil, which had received the injured, ISNA said.

Two days of mourning was announced in East Azerbaijan on Sunday, according to ISNA.

A 6.2-magnitude temblor, with a depth of 10 km, hit Ahar at 4: 53 p.m. (GMT 1223) Saturday, while another 6-magnitude earthquake, also with a depth of 10 km, struck nearby Varzaqan at 5:04 p.m. (GMT 1234), according to Iranian Seismological Center.

Thousands of people are staying outdoor due to house damage or fear of aftershocks. At least 35 aftershocks had occurred in the region.

Turkey has offered aid to the quake-stricken areas, ISNA reported.

Being crossed by several major fault lines, Iran is one of the most seismically active countries in the world.

On December 26, 2003, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit the southern region of Bam. Over 30,000 died and 50,000 were injured, and 70 percent of the residential buildings in the region were reduced to debris.

Two earthquakes in Iran kill 300, injure 2,600

An injured person is taken to hospital in Ahar August 11, 2012. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Iran on Saturday, killing 250 people and injuring around 1,800 as buildings were reduced to rubble, Iranian officials said. [Photo/Agencies]

Collapsed buildings

Hundreds of people were rescued from under the rubble of collapsed buildings but nightfall severely disrupted emergency efforts.

"Unfortunately there are still a number of people trapped in the rubble but finding them is very difficult because of the darkness," Fars quoted the national emergency head Gholam Reza Masoumi as saying.

IRNA quoted Bahram Samadirad, a provincial official from the coroner's office, as saying: "Since some people are in a critical condition ... it is possible for the number of casualties to rise."

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar has arrived in the area and was holding meetings with local officials meant to coordinate the emergency response, ISNA reported.

The hospital in Varzaghan, staffed by just two doctors and with shortages of medical supplies and food, was struggling to cope with about 500 injured, the Mehr news agency reported.

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