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Iran quake toll: At least 24 dead, 270 injured

Noshahr, May 29, IRNA -- At least 21 people were killed and 250 others injured in the Caspian province of Mazandaran in a relatively strong earthquake which shook almost half of Iran Friday.

Damaged village in north of Iran (photo: ISNA)

A local official in this northern city said the death toll is likely to rise.

Most of the death came at a gorge, where several passing cars were crushed and mangled under falling rocks on a road, which links capital Tehran to Mazandaran province.

Damaged village in north of Iran (photo: ISNA)

According to the governor of Kalardasht, two people were killed Saturday morning after being hit by falling rocks at the Kalleh-No village.

Deputy head for civil affairs of the governor's office in Mazandaran, Naseeraddin Shahrokhi, said many cars are still buried on the Kandovan road.

There were also three deaths and 20 injuries in the northwestern Qazvin province, officials said.

According to Shahrokhi, the quake has destroyed part of the Kandovan road, cutting off 40 villages in the cities of Noshahr and Chalous.

Chalous road (photo: ISNA)

The earthquake, registering 5.5 degrees on the Richter scale, struck Friday evening, sending terrified residents in many cities, including in the sprawling capital of Tehran, to the streets.

Some residents in Tehran spent the night outdoors, fearing further tremors.

Doctors at a hospital in Tehran said a man had broken both his legs after jumping from his house in a southern district.

Seismological bases of Tehran University have recorded more than 65 aftershocks, ranging between less than 5.5 and 1.6 degrees in magnitude, since the first quake hit.

They put the epicenter of the tremor at Baladeh, 70 kilometers north of Tehran in Mazandaran province.

Iranians are still haunted by harrowing images of the world's worst disaster in 2003, in which more than 41,000 people were killed in the ancient city of Bam in December.

According to the Zurich-based Swiss Re, the earthquake in Bam on December 26 was the fourth largest in terms of victims since 1970. The third largest was the quake in Gilan, northern Iran, which left 50,000 dead in 1990.


Friday quake rattled the nerves of residents in Tehran -- a city of about 14 million, where construction regulations are widely flouted according to the press.

It was the most powerful in recent years.

Experts have warned that most of the buildings in the sprawling Iranian capital would hardly withstand a strong tremor, blaming builders.

Spending the night out in Tehran (photo: ISNA)

Seismological specialists also say Tehran could suffer casualties in million, if it is struck by a strong earthquake, like the one which hit Bam.

They say at least 15 years have passed since the probable occurrence of a major temblor in Tehran, making the city widely prone to powerful temblors.

On Saturday, newspapers in the capital carried apocalyptic headlines across their front pages and chided officials for paying no heed to the warning of seismological experts.

"Night of Terror," ran the headline on Aftab-e Yazd daily, adding "What lessons did we learn from Bam earthquake?"

"Seven-second shock in Tehran" read the daily Jaam-e Jam.

Gholamali Haddad-Adel, who was elected as interim parliament speaker Saturday, said Friday earthquake was an 'alarm bell reminding us whether we have learnt our lesson from Bam quake'.

Tehran straddles major fault lines in the Alborz chain.

... Payvand News - 5/29/04 ... --

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