Iran Earthquake Death Toll Passes 300 Day After Search For Survivors Called Off

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

(CBS/AP) TEHRAN, Iran - Iran has raised the death toll from Saturday's twin earthquakes to 306, a day after rescuers called off the search for survivors.

Heath Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi told a session of parliament Monday that the number jumped by about 50 after victims expired in the hospital. More than 3,000 people were injured in the earthquakes.

Scores of aftershocks have coursed through Iran's mountainous northeast since the 6.4 and 6.3 magnitude quakes hit the region, where some 300,000 people live near the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 2003, some 26,000 people were killed by a 6.6 magnitude quake that flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that Saturday's first quake at 4:53 p.m. (8:23 a.m. ET) had a magnitude of 6.4 and struck 37 miles northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 6.2 miles. State TV quoted local Crisis Committee chief Khalil Saei as saying the epicenter was a region between the towns of Ahar and Haris, about 200 miles northwest of the capital Tehran.

The second quake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck 11 minutes later, the U.S.G.S. reported. Its epicenter was 29 miles northeast of Tabriz at a depth of 6.1 miles.

The quakes hit the towns of Ahar, Haris and Varzaqan in East Azerbaijan province, Iranian television reported. At least six villages were totally leveled, and 133 others sustained damage ranging from 50 to 80 percent, it said.

Some 36 aftershocks jolted the same area and were felt in a wide region near the Caspian Sea, causing panic among the population.


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