Photos by Ali Hamed Haghdust, Mehr News Agency
Two strong earthquakes struck northwestern Iran on Saturday August 11, killing so far over 180 people and leaving more than 1,500 injured. The toll is likely to rise as reports coming in indicated scores of villages have been hard-hit by the earthquakes.
Hassan Ghadami, deputy interior minister announced some hours ago that in Ahar 45 people, in Varzaghan, 40 and in Hereese, 50 were killed by the earthquake while another 18 have been pronouced dead after transfer to hospitals in Tabriz.
The number of wounded are continuously rising with the latest announcement set at 1,500 people. Tehran University's Seismological Centre announced that the first quake was registered at 4:53 local time with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, followed by an aftershock measured at 6.0.
The cities of Ahar and Varzaghan, near Tabriz, were at the centre of today's earthquake. Tehran University's Seismological Center said the first earthquake had a magnitude of 6.2 with its epicenter some 60 kilometers from Tabriz, population 1.5 million, and 11 minutes later a second earthquake measuring 6.0 hit. The U.S. Geological Survey, which monitors earthquakes worldwide, said the first quake measured 6.4 and the second 6.3.
Varzaghan, East Azerbaijan province, Iran (View Larger Map )
Officials report that Tabriz is facing snarled traffic and power outages in many parts of the city.
Reports from Ahar say numerous houses have been destroyed and ruptured gas pipes have created further hazards. Iranian experts predict aftershocks may be felt in the region over the next 24 to 48 hours.
The Red Crescent aid society says it has given emergency shelter to about 16,000 people and is sending in more supplies. Officials say they fear rescuers still have not reached some remote villages hit by the quake.
Massive Damage To Remote Villages
Telephone and communications lines to the region were badly damaged, making it difficult to contact local officials to receive assessments of the situation.
Rescue workers used radios to contact towns and villages in the area and sent helicopters to some villages to view the damage.
The Iranian Students News Agency reported six villages were completely destroyed and 60 villages had been 50-70 percent destroyed.
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