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Deadly Iran Earthquakes kills 180 and injured 1,500

By Austin Amuzie - Saturday, August 11, 2012

Deadly Iran Earthquakes kills 180 and injured 1,500


Two strong earthquakes killed 180 people and injured about 1,500 in northwest Iran where rescuers frantically combed the rubble of dozens of villages through the night into Sunday. Thousands fled their homes and remained outdoors after Saturday's quakes, as at least 40 aftershocks hit the area.

An injured person is taken to hospital in Ahar 
Casualty figures could rise, Iranian officials said, as some of the injured were in a critical condition while other people were still trapped under the rubble and rescuers - hampered by the darkness - had yet to reach some affected villages. Six villages had been destroyed and about 60 had sustained more than 50 percent damage, Iranian media said.

Photographs posted by Iranian news websites showed bodies lying on the floor in the corner of a white-tiled morgue in the town of Ahar, and medical staff, surrounded by anxious residents, treating the injured in the open air as dusk fell. Other images showed collapsed buildings and cars flattened by rubble.

Iran is situated on major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 which turned the southeastern historic city of Bam into dust and killed more than 25,000 people.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday's first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles). A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.




Officials said 180 people had been killed and about 1,500 injured, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The second quake struck near the town of Varzaghan. "The quake was so intense that people poured into the streets through fear," Fars said.

COLLAPSED BUILDINGS
Hundreds of people were rescued from under the rubble of collapsed buildings but night-time 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," national emergency head Gholam Reza Masoumi was quoted as saying by Fars.

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