An earthquake rocked northwestern Iran before dawn yesterday, killing at least six people and injuring more than 300 in crumbling and collapsed buildings.
The 5.9-magnitude quake struck at 1:17am (2247 GMT Thursday) about 120 kilometres southeast of the city of Tabriz, in East Azerbaijan province, the Iranian Seismological Centre said.
Described as “moderate”, the quake was eight kilometres deep and was followed by five aftershocks.The provincial governor, Mohamed-Reza Pourmohammadi, told Iranian media that rescue operations were underway in 41 villages, but the damage was largely concentrated in two, Varnakesh and Varzaghan.
According to the emergency services, nearly 340 people were admitted to hospital for treatment, but all but 17 were discharged by yesterday noon.
Some 40 homes were levelled by the quake and over 200 head of cattle killed.
Around 100 injured residents were pulled out of the rubble of their damaged or flattened homes. Around noon, emergency teams distributed survival kits, stoves, blankets and tents in 78 villages. In Varnakesh, an emergency shelter was set up.
State television broadcast images of people who had fled their homes warming themselves around a fire lit on a public highway. But the damage appeared to be less widespread than initially feared.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) had issued an alert warning that “significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread”.In many areas people had returned to their homes by daybreak after the initial panic subsided and the aftershocks petered out.
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