Two Quakes Hit Iran’s Northwestern Region Killing 250 People

Two earthquakes exceeding magnitude 6 struck northwestern Iran, killing at least 250 people and injuring more than 2,000, Iran’s Press TV said.

The quakes struck the town of Ahar near Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan province, yesterday, Press TV said on its website. Four villages may have been destroyed in the area, it said, citing unconfirmed reports.

At least 30 people were killed in Ahar and 40 died in Varzagan, Al Jazeera television said, citing Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quakes hit within 11 minutes of each other in the late afternoon. The first had a magnitude of 6.4 with an epicenter 12 miles (20 kilometers) west-southwest of Ahar. It was followed by a magnitude-6.3 temblor 19 miles west-southwest of the city, according to the USGS. Both occurred at a depth of less than 6.2 miles, the USGS said in advisories on its website.

A 5.1-magnitude temblor occurred 51 miles from Tabriz early today, the USGS said.

Communications were cut by the quakes and panicked residents ran into the streets yesterday, according to Fars.

The USGS detected at least five smaller temblors after the quakes, from magnitude 4.4 to 5. Iran’s Mehr news agency reported 28 aftershocks.

Iran is prone to earthquakes. An estimated 40,000 people were killed when an earthquake flattened the city of Bam in the southern province of Kerman in December 2003.

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