RT News Two strong quakes have shaken northern Iran, leaving at least 40 dead and 400 injured, Reuters reports. The quake has also disrupted communications, complicating the rescue efforts.
The quakes, measuring 6.4 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, struck near the towns of Tabriz and Ahar. However, most of the dead are thought to be in the surrounding villages.
“Our access to villages have been cut and we can only contact them by radio transceiver,” Mahmoud Mozaffar, head of Iran’s Rescue and Relief Organisation, told the Mehr news agency. He added that “helicopters and rescuers are on their way to villages.”
The first tremor occured at 12:23 GMT, and the second one struck 11 minutes later, according to the US Geological Survey.
A spokesman for Tabriz’s fire department told the ISNA news agency that “most parts of Tabriz have no electricity… and there is a heavy traffic jam in the city.”
“Sixty villages… have been heavily damaged and are in need of help,” Abbas Fallah, a lawmaker in the hard-hit town of Ahar, told local reporters.
Iran is generally susceptible to earthquakes, being situated on seismic fault lines. Tremors hit the country every day, but the majority of them are so insignificant that they go unnoticed.
The deadliest was a 6.6-magnitude quake which struck the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing 31,000 people – about a quarter of the population – and destroying the city’s ancient mud-built citadel.