Iranian Official Says 150 Dead In Earthquake
August 11, 2012
Two strong earthquakes followed by several aftershocks have killed at least 150 people in northwestern Iran, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Fars quoted Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Ghadami as saying 153 people were dead and some 700 injured as a result of the earthquakes.
The toll is likely to rise as reports coming in indicated scores of villages have been hard-hit by the earthquakes.
Abbas Fallah, a lawmaker from the town of Ahar, located in East Azerbaijan Province near the epicenter of the quake, said 60 villages were heavily damaged and desperately in need of help.
Fars news agency quoted the coroner in Ahar, Mohammad Zargari, as saying there were at least 20 people dead in the town but "it is estimated the number will reach 40."
The chief coroner for the region, Bahram Samadi-Rad, said in the town of Varazgqan another 30 people were killed.
Massive Damage To Remote Villages
Telephone and communications lines to the region were badly damaged, making it difficult to contact local officials to receive assessments of the situation.
Rescue workers used radios to contact towns and villages in the area and sent helicopters to some villages to view the damage.
The Iranian Students News Agency reported six villages were completely destroyed and 60 villages had been 50-70 percent destroyed.
Tehran University's Seismological Center said the first earthquake had a magnitude of 6.2 with its epicenter some 60 kilometers from Tabriz, population 1.5 million, and 11 minutes later a second earthquake measuring 6.0 hit.
The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes worldwide, said the first quake measured 6.4 and the second 6.3.
Across the border in Armenia the quakes shook buildings in the capital, Yerevan, and sent people fleeing out of their homes into the streets, but officials there report there was no major damage.
Azerbaijan also report feeling the earthquake but did not report any serious damage or casualties.
With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and ITAR-TASS
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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