At least seven killed in Iran earthquake

21 Dec 2010

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The death toll from a magnitude-6.5 earthquake in southeastern Iran rose to 7, with officials fearing that it will continue to climb, state-run Press TV said Tuesday.

Felt as far away as the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the quake was particularly strong between the cities of Zahedan and Bam. It struck late at night and hardest in mostly rural, relatively sparsely populated areas of Kerman province, officials said.

“Considering the dimensions of the damage, the death toll is expected to rise,” the governor general of Kerman was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency.

Citing eyewitnesses, another state-run news agency IRNA reported that scores of people are trapped in debris of buildings that have been destroyed. Many such sites are in hard-to-reach locations, making any rescue operations even more difficult. Additionally, at least seven aftershocks struck in the four hours since the 6.5-magnitude quake hit at 10:12 p.m. Monday night, according to the Iranian Seismological Center, based at the University of Tehran, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The tremor was centered in Kerman province about 16 kilometers (9 miles) southwest of Hosein Abab, 213 kilometers (132 miles) southwest of Zahedan and about 1,075 kilometers (668 miles) south of Tehran. Considering the dimensions of the damage, the death toll is expected to rise.

Residents of Zahedan, Khash and Iranshahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, all felt the quake, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.

Kerman Gov. Esmail Najjar told IRNA that although the earthquake’s reach was significant, it hit several small villages hardest. The high-impact zone’s population – which Najjar estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000 people – was widely dispersed.

Iran lies on a series of seismic fault lines and experiences earthquakes almost daily. At times, they have had devastating consequences. Among the most notable was in December 2003, when a 6.6-magnitude quake devastated the ancient city of Bam – also in southeast Iran – and killed at least 30,000 people.

source: CNN

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