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MIDEAST > Turkey offers aid to Iran after quake kills over 250

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Relief efforts are speeded up for victims affected by two earthquakes in northwest Iran after rescue efforts are called off. Quakes kill at least 227 people and leave more than 1,300 people injured, according to the latest tally

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A victim of killer earthquakes sits on the ruins of buildings at the village of Bajebaj near the city of Varzaqan in northwestern Iran. Twin quakes have killed at least 250.  AP Photo

A victim of killer earthquakes sits on the ruins of buildings at the village of Bajebaj near the city of Varzaqan in northwestern Iran. Twin quakes have killed at least 250. AP Photo

Relief operations were under way in north-west Iran after two powerful earthquakes killed at least 227 people and left more than 1,300 people injured.

Interior Minister Moustafa Mohammad Najjar revised a previous interior ministry count of 250 dead and 2,000 hurt. He added that “search and rescue operations have ended and we are now working to ensure survivors’ needs in terms of shelter and food.” The new toll was down from a given hours earlier. Mohammad-Najjar told the television that half of the 600 villages located in the disaster zone had been damaged or destroyed. The quakes, which struck on Aug. 11 within 11 minutes of each other, measured 6.4 and 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey which monitors earthquakes worldwide, Agence France-Presse reported. Their epicentres were close to the towns of Ahar and Varzeghan, about 60 kilometres from the city of Tabriz.

‘Rebuilding soon’

Thousands of people huddled in makeshift camps or slept in the streets Aug. 11 in fear of more aftershocks. But a lack of tents and other supplies left them exposed to the night chill, one witness told Reuters. “The devastated areas will be rebuilt strongly,” said Najjar said, adding that all buildings in the area would be made quake-resistant. Rural villages surrounding the towns of Ahar, Varzaghan and Harees near the major city of Tabriz have reportedly suffered the worst damage and casualties.
Many villages are hard to reach by road, hindering rescue efforts. Hospitals in Tabriz, Ardabil and other cities nearby took in many of the injured, residents and Iranian media said, and there were long queues of survivors waiting to be treated.

Iranian officials said that massive operations are underway to meet the needs of the people. “Although identification and search for the victims have finished, the emergency squads are providing service to the people,” head of Iran’s Emergency Center Gholamreza Ma’soumi told Fars news agency.
Ghadami said he hoped the death toll would not rise further as some who had been critically injured had already died from their wounds. About 16,000 people in the quake-hit area have been given emergency shelter, Red Crescent official Mahmoud Mozafar told Mehr news agency.

Iran is situated on major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that reduced the historic south-eastern city of Bam to dust and killed about 31,000 people.

August/13/2012

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