12 Aug 2012

Search for Iran quake survivors continues as toll rises

10:02 pm on 12 August 2012

Rescuers in northwestern Iran have been working through the night to reach survivors after two strong earthquakes killed at least 250 people.

The 6.4 and 6.3 quakes struck near Tabriz and Ahar on Saturday afternoon, with more than 55 aftershocks reported over the following hours.

The BBC reports more than 100 villages have been damaged and thousands of people spent the night in emergency shelters or in the open.

Relief agencies are trying to provide the survivors with tents, bread and drinking water.

The Red Crescent has provided 3000 tents, blankets, tonnes of food and blood supplies, it also took over a sports stadium to provide emergency shelter to about 16,000 people who had fled their homes.

Reports say phone lines to many villages have been cut off, confining rescuers to radio contact and, analysts said, probably masking the true scale of casualties.

An Iranian Red Crescent official estimated that 16,000 people had been given emergency shelter after they were forced to leave their homes.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered authorities to mobilise all efforts to help with the rescue.

The disaster zone is located about 90km from the borders with Armenia and Azerbaijan and about 190km from the border with Turkey.

More than 25,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in the city of Bam in 2003.