At least 250 killed when strong quakes jolt northwestern Iran

Iran searches for quake victims
Iran searches for quake victims


    Iran searches for quake victims


Iran searches for quake victims 02:25

Story highlights

  • Drinking water cut in villages
  • State media: 17 aftershocks follow two powerful earthquakes
  • Some buildings in Tabriz were damaged
  • Iran has been prone to devastating earthquakes

At least 250 people were killed and 2,000 others injured when two strong earthquakes jolted northwestern Iran on Saturday near the city of Tabriz, state-run news agencies said.

Iran's state-run Press TV said 250 people had died. Officials feared the casualties would rise.

The city of Ahar was home to 45 of the deaths and 500 of the injured, a local official told state-run IRNA media.

The first earthquake, a magnitude 6.4, hit at 4:53 p.m. local time 37 miles northeast of Tabriz, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which measured 11 aftershocks. Just 11 minutes later a second quake, measuring 6.3, struck 30 miles northeast of Tabriz.

Authorities reported 17 aftershocks in the region, state-run IRNA media said. The semi-official Fars News Agency reported 35 aftershocks. Officials asked residents, as a safety precaution, to spend the night outdoors.

Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran
Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran


    Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran


Dozens killed, hundreds injured in Iran 02:18

The quakes affected Tabriz, the capital of East Azarbaijan province, and nearby cities. It razed four villages and another 60 villages sustained heavy damage, said Fars. It said 40 people died in the city of Varzaqan and 50 were killed in Haris.

Initial reports said some buildings in Tabriz suffered structural damage and power lines were down. Telephone lines were down in Ahar, the quake's epicenter. The extent of the damage was still being assessed.

Many people were in dire need of drinking water, bread and shelter, said Fars, quoting officials.

Authorities dispatched rescue teams to the area.

Press TV broadcast images of collapsed buildings and makeshift medical stations set up in the streets. In scenes broadcast by state-run IRINN, people lying on blankets were administered intravenous fluids.

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

In 2003, 30,000 people died in an earthquake in Bam in southeastern Kerman province. In 1990, about 50,000 were killed in a quake that hit near the Caspian Sea.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      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.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      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

      How to fix a soccer match

      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.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      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.