Rescue teams in northwest Iran strived Sunday to dig survivors out of the rubble of villages levelled by twin earthquakes that killed at least 180 people and injured more than 1,300, according to officials.
Iranians search for survivors under the rubble of houses in the town of Varzaqan, some 60 kms northeast of Tabriz after twin earthquakes hit northwestern Iran. (AFP Photo/Mahsa Jamali)
With telephone communications disrupted in the disaster zone, northeast of the city of Tabriz, emergency teams were relying on radios and travelling in person to hard-hit villages to rescue and assess the destruction.
The quakes, which struck Saturday within 11 minutes of each other, measured 6.2 and 6.0, according to Tehran University's Seismological Centre.
The US Geological Survey, which monitors seismic activity worldwide, ranked them as more powerful, at 6.4 and 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale, respectively.
"Unfortunately, the toll is mounting and we are now at 180 dead," Khalil Saie, the head of the regional natural disasters centre, told state television. He put the number of injured at 1,350.
"Up to now, there are no deaths reported in the cities and all the victims come from rural areas," he said.
Earlier he urged residents in the zone not to panic, reassuring them that "help is arriving and rescuers are already at the scene."
Iran's Red Crescent took over a sports stadium to shelter the 16,000 people left homeless or too afraid to return indoors, the Fars news agency reported.
It also provided 3,000 tents, blankets and tonnes of food -- all a sign of years of preparedness in a nation prone to sometimes catastrophic seismic activity.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's office posted a statement on its website expressing condolences to those in the disaster zone and calling on authorities to "mobilise all efforts to help the affected populations."
According to the official IRNA news agency, 66 rescue teams were at work, using 40 devices and seven dog squads to detect buried survivors. Some 185 ambulances were sent to the area.
Those hurt were taken to hospitals in Tabriz and Ardebil, the two biggest nearby cities, both of which escaped relatively unscathed from the quakes.
In contrast, villages outlying the towns of Ahar and Varzaqan, 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Tabriz, were decimated, being closest to the epicentres of the two quakes. Dwellings close to Heris, another town close by, were also badly shaken.
Residents in the region were terrified as their homes shook around them when the quakes hit, and they fled into the streets for safety, according to reports.
Tehran University's Seismological Centre said the first earthquake occurred at 4:53 pm (1223 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres.
The second -- actually a big aftershock -- rumbled through from nearly the same spot. A series of more than 17 smaller aftershocks rating 4.7 or less rapidly followed.
The disaster zone was located around 90 kilometres from the borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan, and around 190 kilometres from the border with Turkey.
Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.
The deadliest was a 6.6-magnitude quake which struck the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing 31,000 people -- about a quarter of the population -- and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel.
|< Prev||Next >|
» Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran nuclear deal
» Ministry condemns Iran Embassy bomb
» New round of Iran nuclear talks resumes in Geneva
Latest Category Posts
- Lao National Assembly convenes sixth session
- Thai Prime Minister to run for upcoming election
- Malaysia, Brunei enhance bilateral relations
- Singapore to support CLMV central banks
- Train accident kills six in Indonesia
- Thai Army Chief reassures no coup d’etat
- Thai cabinet announces date for general election
- Philippines promotes trade with ASEAN countries
- Riot takes place in Singapore’s Little India
- Pakistan fashion casts off 'dark cloud' of extremism
Random Category Picks
- Nearly 1,000 killed in Cairo since Aug 14 crackdown
- Steve Jobs' boyhood home gets 'historic' designation
- Thai Prime Minister to run for upcoming election
- French artist Laure Prouvost wins Britain's Turner prize
- Guarded hopes as Iran nuclear talks kick off in Geneva
- Iran, P5+1 agree to meet on Nov. 7-8
Popular Category Posts
- Pakistan earthquake death toll rises to 348 as 20 more bodies recovered
- Israel showcases Iranian spy case as Netanyahu visits U.S.
- 51 killed in clashes in Egypt amid war anniversary celebration
- American, two Russians take shortcut to space
- Conservation 'tragedy' as endangered kiwis die in New Zealand zoo
- Iran's FM says nuclear talks 'constructive'
- Death toll in Nigeria plane crash hits 15
- UN panel in final push for new climate report
- 'At least 28 dead' in Nigeria college shooting
- Syria attack probe ends ahead of disarmament mission
- Fonterra confirms talks with Danone over botulism scare damages
- World population to shoot up to 9.7 billion in 2050: study
- Syria arms inspectors face unprecedented danger: UN
- UN Security Council okays plan to rid Syria of chemical weapons
- Thirty million people are slaves, half in India: survey
- Regulatory cloud hangs over e-cigarette revolution
- Mexico candy factory blast injures 40, 20 missing
- Australian scientists use 3D printing for improving racehorse's performance
- Research is my passion, says Nobel Prize winner in physics
- Final report on Syria's chemical weapons expected in early December: UN