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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Scores are killed as Iran is jolted by 3 earthquakes

The Associated PressSATURDAY, APRIL 1, 2006

TEHRAN Three strong earthquakes and several aftershocks reduced villages to rubble in western Iran early Friday, killing at least 70 people and injuring about 1,200, officials said.
At least 13 tremors jolted the mountainous region throughout the night, Tehran University's Geophysics Institute said. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.7-magnitude quake shortly before 5 a.m., followed by a 4.7-magnitude aftershock about 15 minutes later.

The quakes were centered near Borujerd and Doroud, two industrial centers about 330 kilometers, or 210 miles, southwest of Tehran, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The regional head of emergency response, Ali Barani, said about 200 villages were damaged, some flattened. He said hospitals in Doroud and Borujerd were filled to capacity.

After the first quake struck, the police in the city of Borujerd and the town of Doroud toured the streets with loudspeakers, urging people to leave their homes before more temblors hit. That move was believed to have helped keep the death toll lower than usual quakes of this magnitude.

Iranian television showed survivors standing next to their destroyed houses in villages north of Doroud. The ground was strewn with the carcasses of sheep and goats killed by the quake.

Such quakes have killed thousands of Iranians in the past, especially in the countryside, where construction is often flimsy and many houses are built of mud bricks. But initial reports suggested that the devastation was not so widespread this time. State-run television said 66 bodies had been recovered from houses destroyed in Silakhor, a region north of Doroud. The broadcast said 1,200 people were hurt. Most people had been sleeping.

In February 2005, a 6.4-magnitude quake in southern Iran killed 612 people and injured more than 1,400. A magnitude 6.6 quake flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam in the same region in December 2003, killing 26,000 people. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on a visit to northern England, expressed her "deep sympathy" to the Iranians and offered assistance. The U.S. military provided aid after a devastating quake in southern Iran in 2003.

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