Latest reports from Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) puts the official death count of the quake in town of Zarand in Iran's province of Kerman at about 500. However, the survey conducted by ISNA puts the number of the dead at 790 and the injured at 1411.
Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari on Wednesday regretted over the big size of destruction and damage in villages around the city of Zarand, in the southeastern province of Kerman.
Talking to reporters while inspecting the quake-hit village of Dahouyeh, he estimated that some 8,000 residential units have been damaged in province's rural areas.
Since two villages have been flattened to earth and over 50 villages of Zarand region have been damaged by over 20 percent because of the strong quake which hit the southeastern Iran on Tuesday morning, the death toll may reach 500, he said.
According to early estimates, the quake has inflicted over rls 700 billion of damage upon rural areas and infrastructural installations in the quake-hit region.
Talking to local people upon his arrival in the quake-stricken region of Zarand, Lari vowed to help settle the existing problems facing Kerman province.
Lari, accompanied by the deputy interior minister in charge of development, arrived here Wednesday morning to inspect quake-hit areas and to become familiar with the shortages and difficulties caused by the Tuesday quake.
Meanwhile, Majlis Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, addressing the open session of Majlis on Wednesday morning, called for solidification of buildings in rural areas.
The yesterday quake destroyed three to four villages by 100 percent, he said, adding that some 40 villages have also been damaged by over 25 percent.
Meanwhile, head of the provincial coroner's office announced Wednesday that suffocation has been the main cause of death of a large number of victims of the Tuesday quake in Kerman province.
Bodies of 290 people have so far been handed over to their family members while 23 corpses of unknown identity are still remained in the provincial coroner's office, Masoud Qari-Pasha added.
Some 57 percent of the victims are women, he said, adding that 37 percent of the total number of killed in the quake are under 14 years of age.
In related developments, Javad Rashidi, the Governor of Zarand, told IRNA on Wednesday that transfer of dead bodies from all rural areas of Kerman province, except for Houtkan region, has been completed.
Several corpses are still under debris in Houtkan region which is a mountainous and arduous region, he said, adding that all the injured have been transferred to local hospitals.
Meanwhile, Jalaleddin Fatemi, the head of the seismological base of Martyr Bahonar University of Kerman, told IRNA that his base has registered some 120 aftershocks in the quake-hit region of Zarand since Tuesday morning.
An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hit southeastern Iran at 05:55 hours local time (0225 GMT) on Tuesday, killing over 460 people and injuring hundreds of others.
A killer earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter scale flattened the historical city of Bam in the same province on December 26, 2003, killing over 30,000 people and injuring thousands more.
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