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News number: 9104253777

09:30 | 2012-08-12

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Official: 250 Killed, 1,800 Injured by Twin Quakes

TEHRAN (FNA)- At least 250 people have been killed and over 1,800 others injured by the Saturday earthquakes that rocked Northwestern Iran, officials said on Sunday.



"According to the latest reports, 250 people have been killed and more than 1,800 others have been injured by the two earthquakes which shook the East Azarbaijan province yesterday," Iran's Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Qaddami told FNA on Sunday.

The official mentioned that the rescue and relief operations have ended, and added, "A number of 110 villages have been damaged."

According to provincial officials, 4 villages have been destroyed completely, while 60 others have sustained damage from 50 to 80 percent in Ahar region.

Also, local officials said that 12 villages have been destroyed completely in Varzaqan region.

"We hope that the death toll will not increase any more," Qaddami said.

He also said the interior minister has arrived in the quake-stricken areas and presided over crisis-management meetings.

Qaddami, who heads the Interior Ministry's crisis-management headquarters, said, "All those under debris have been rescued and the quake-stricken people are now being provided with their basic needs."

An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale jolted Ahar in East Azerbaijan province at 16:00 hours local time (1130GMT) Saturday. The epicenter of the quake was located in an area 46.8 degrees in longitude and 38.4 degrees in latitude.

Almost an hour later another quake with magnitude 6 on the Richter scale jolted Varzaqan at 17:04 hours local time (1234GMT) in the same province. The epicenter of the quake was located in an area 46.7 degrees in longitude and 38.4 degrees in latitude.

Thousands of people were forced to remain outdoors as at least 35 aftershocks rocked the area.

Iran sits astride several major faults in the earth's crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating.

The worst in recent times hit Bam in southeastern Kerman province in December 2003, killing 31,000 people - about a quarter of its population - and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel.

The deadliest quake in the country was in June 1990 and measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured in the northwestern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan. It devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages.

Tehran alone sits on two major fault lines, and the capital's 14 million residents fear a major quake.