The Representative of Iran Armed Forces at the Natural Disasters Headquarters (NDH) said in Tehran on Tuesday night that the army has formed a crisis management center to provide relief assistance to quake-hit areas since early Tuesday morning, IRNA reported.
The Interior Ministry's public relations department quoted Colonel Habib Sayari as saying that following a request by the Kerman province crisis center, six choppers, in two operations, were dispatched to the quake-hit areas to identify the villages affected and provide relief assistance.
He added that all of army's bases have been in full alert in Kerman to provide help to the NDH in its grim task of helping the earthquake victims.
Also, another C-130 aircraft, on request of Iran Red Crescent Society (IRCS), is in regular flights from Tehran to Kerman airport.
"Two other heavy transportation aircraft will also be involved in hauling relief to the affected areas," Sayari added.
The death toll from the early morning quake in the town of Zarand in this southeastern province has risen to 300, said an MP from Zarand on Tuesday.
It is expected that the toll will rise to more than 500 dead and some 1,000 injured, Hossein Amiri added. Latest reports from Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) puts the official death count at about 500 while the count by ISNA at 790.
The epicenter of the early morning quake, with a magnitude of 6.4, was located in the town of Zarand, about 700 km southeast of Tehran.
He further noted that rain, blocked roads and the mountainous terrain have made it difficult for heavy vehicles to remove the bodies trapped under the debris, adding that it is raining heavily in the district of Hatkan, neighboring Zarand.
The district of Hatkan, home to 700 residents, was razed to the ground, Amiri added, saying that a number of tents have been pitched in this region to temporarily resettle the survivors of the quake.
Most parts of the district of Dahouyeh, located 45 km of Zarand, were completely destroyed. The death toll in the two districts are more than other areas.
The residents in the town of Zarand are in urgent need of tents, oil and gasoline, according to him.
Some 40 villages in this southeastern province were destroyed by the strong quake early this morning. Some 20 villages were razed to the ground, Mehdi Abna, the managing director of Kerman's Red Crescent Society told IRNA.
More than 50 relief teams from the Red Crescent of Kerman province were dispatched to the quake-hit regions immediately after the incident, he said.
A government plane, carrying relief supplies which include 795 tents, 800 blankets, 100 stretchers and some 600 packages of bread is to take off from the capital city of Tehran to the quake-hit areas, the official added.
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