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80 dead, 300 hurt in Iranian quake

The 2003 Bam earthquake killed more than 30,000.

(CNN) -- Eighty people have died and 300 were injured when a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck near Zarand in central Iran, Iranian state-run television reported.

The temblor, which struck about 5:55 a.m. local time (9:25 p.m. Monday ET), sent panicked residents pouring into the streets on Tuesday, where they remained, clogging avenues used to transport the injured to hospitals and forcing residents to use motorcycles.

In Zarand, a city of about 135,000 people in Kerman province, 20 people died and 280 were taken to hospitals, officials said. Rescue crews were en route.

Six of Zarand's outlying villages received damages ranging from 30 to 70 percent, authorities told state-run television. Impassable roads hindered efforts to contact other villages.

Helicopters were sent to help in transporting the injured, along with identifying the easiest ways into the inaccessible areas.

Initial reports indicate the epicenter of the temblor was located near the villages of Khanouk, Islamabad and Mottaharabad, state television said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was at a depth of about 26 miles. Zarand, about 740 kilometers (460 miles) southeast of Tehran, is about 125 miles from Bam, where a 6.6-magnitude quake on December 26, 2003, killed more than 30,000 people, injured another 30,000 and destroyed 85 percent of buildings.

A magnitude 6.4 is classified as a "strong" earthquake by the U.S. Geological Survey. However, Zarand is in a more sparsely populated area than Bam.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr in Tehran contributed to this report.

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