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News number: 9104253775

02:02 | 2012-08-12

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Victims of Saturday Quake Rise to 180

TEHRAN (FNA)- The two powerful quakes which struck parts of Northwestern Iran on Saturday have claimed the lives of 180 people and injured more than 1350 others, Iranian officials announced late Saturday night.



Director-General of the Crisis-Management Headquarters of Iran's Northwestern East Azarbaijan province Khalil Sa'ee announced that 180 people have been killed and over 1350 more have been wounded by the quakes.

Earlier on Saturday night, Iran's Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Qaddami told FNA that
"according to the latest reports and estimates, a number of 180 people have, unfortunately, been killed by the quakes thus far".

According to Qaddami, the death toll included 45 people in the city of Ahar, 40 in the city of Varzaqan and 50 in the town of Haris, while 18 others have lost their lives at hospital.

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.

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

The area has been shaken by 35 aftershocks in the last few hours. Officials have asked people in both areas to stay outdoors overnight.

Officials have also announced that the quake-stricken people are in dire need of mineral water, bread and tent as drinking water has been cut in all villages in 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.