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At least 87 killed after two strong earthquakes strike northwest Iran

posted 11 Aug 2012, 11:41 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 11 Aug 2012, 11:42 ]

The death toll rises to at least 87, after two massive earthquakes hit northwestern Iran and the eastern province of Azerbaijan.

Two strong earthquakes struck villages in northwest Iran on Saturday (August 11), killing at least 87 people and injuring more than 400, Iranian media said.
Six villages near the city of Tabriz were completely destroyed and other neighbouring cities were facing damages and power outages.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the first quake at 6.4 magnitude and said it struck 60 km (37 miles) northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles).

A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 km (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.

The second quake struck near the town of Varzgan, Fars news agency said. "The quake was so intense that people poured into the streets through fear," it said.

A local provincial official urged people in the region to stay outdoors during the night for fear of aftershocks.

Many Iranians heard the initial news through the state broadcaster, IRINN.

''An earthquake as big as 6.2 magnitude hit the village of Ahar near eastern province of Azerbaijan. According to the Geophysics Institute of Tehran University, it registered the quake at 16:53 hours local time and the intensity was felt through most of the villages near the eastern province of Azerbaijan and province of Ardebil. After the earthquake, traumatized residents from various cities near Tabriz, walked out of their homes on to the streets. Fortunately the earthquake has not had a major death toll so far, but power outages to some homes could be affected. There are evident cracks in some buildings in across the area effected by the earthquake and the aftershocks,'' a news presenter said.

By early evening, ISNA said there had been at least 10 aftershocks.

Iran is straddled by several major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent times, the last which struck the city of Bam in 2003, killing more than 25,000 people.