More than 300 killed, 3,000 injured in Iran earthquakes

Story highlights

  • Scores of villages are damaged or destroyed after two earthquakes
  • Iranian media: Rescue operations have ended after the Saturday quakes
  • Historic sites are also damaged
  • Iran sits on major fault lines and is prone to devastating earthquakes

The death toll from a pair of earthquakes that jolted Iran on Saturday has escalated once again, state-run media reported Monday.

At least 306 people have been killed and 3,037 injured in the two quakes in northwest Iran, Press TV reported, citing the country's Health Ministry.

The head of emergency services, Gholamreza Masoumi, told the semi-official Fars News Agency that 4,500 people were injured. About 1,200 were taken to hospitals, and the remaining 3,300 were treated as outpatients and released, he said.

Rescue operations were reported to have ended Sunday.

"All those killed or injured in the incident have been taken out of the rubble," said Abolhassan Faqih, the head of Iran's Red Crescent Society, according to Fars.

Iran searches for quake victims

    Just Watched

    Iran searches for quake victims

Iran searches for quake victims 02:25
Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran

    Just Watched

    Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran

Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran 02:18

Scores of villages were destroyed or damaged by the quakes, which struck East Azarbaijan province northeast of Tabriz, the country's fourth-largest city.

Khalil Saei, the provincial director of crisis management, told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency that the cities of Ahar and Varzaqan were the hardest hit.

The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.4, hit Saturday at 4:53 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which said the epicenter was 23 kilometers (14 miles) southwest of Ahar. The agency measured 11 aftershocks.

Eleven minutes later, a second quake struck. This one measured 6.3 and had an epicenter 32 kilometers (20 miles) west-southwest of Ahar. At a depth of less than 10 kilometers (6 miles), both quakes were shallow. The shaking that follows an earthquake is worse in shallow quakes.

Are you there? Send your photos, videos

A series of aftershocks followed, including one measuring 4.4 magnitude, according to the USGS.

Authorities had asked residents to spend the night outdoors as a safety precaution.

The Red Crescent's Faqih said 230 villages in the Varzaqan, Haris and Ahar regions suffered 70% to 100% damage.

"All those under debris have been rescued, and the quake-stricken people are now being provided with their basic needs," Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Qaddami told Fars.

He said that Russia, Turkey and Taiwan had offered help with relief and rescue operations, but that none was needed.

Thousands of tents were set up throughout the stricken region, and tens of thousands of cans of food were distributed, Iranian officials said.

In a statement, Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission, said she was "saddened by the tragic news" of the incident.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is prepared to offer earthquake assistance but had received no request.

"Americans wishing to provide humanitarian assistance to Iranians during this time may donate food and medicine without obtaining an Iranian transactions regulations license," she told reporters. "Additionally, certain noncommercial personal financial transactions for Iran are authorized under existing general licenses."

The quakes damaged historic monuments, including the roof of Shahabeddin Ahari's tomb and the Qasem Khan Ahari house, among other sites, Press TV said.

Iran sits on major fault lines -- the collision of the Arabia and Eurasia plates -- and has been prone to devastating earthquakes.

Nine years ago, 30,000 people died in an earthquake in Bam in southeastern Kerman province. In 1990, about 50,000 were killed in a quake near the Caspian Sea.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.