Iran earthquake kills five, leaves 300 injured

TEHERAN: An earthquake shook northwestern Iran before dawn on Friday, killing at least five people and injuring more than 300 in collapsed and collapsed buildings. The magnitude 5.9 earthquake occurred at 1:17 am (local time) about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southeast of the city of, in the east Azerbaijan province, said the Seismological Center of Iran.

Described as moderate, the earthquake was eight kilometers (five miles) deep and was followed by five aftershocks.

The provincial governor, Mohammad-Reza Pourmohammadi, told Iranian media that rescue operations were underway in 41 villages, but the damage was largely concentrated in two, Varnakesh and Varzaghan.

According to emergency services, almost 340 people were admitted to the hospital for treatment, but all but 17 were discharged on Friday at noon.

The earthquake razed about 40 houses and killed more than 200 head of cattle. About 100 injured residents were removed from the rubble of their damaged or crushed homes.

Around noon, emergency teams distributed survival kits, stoves, blankets and tents in 78 villages.

In Varnakesh, an emergency shelter was created.

State television broadcast images of people who had fled their homes by heating around a fire on a public highway.

But the damage seemed to be less widespread than initially feared.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued a warning alert that there are likely to be major victims and that the disaster is potentially widespread.

In many areas, people had returned to their homes at dawn after the initial panic subsided and the aftershocks faded.

Gas supply was restored to all affected villages except one.

The earthquake was felt in the capital of the province, Tabriz, and as far as the city of, near the Black Sea coast 200 kilometers (125 miles) from the epicenter.

Tabriz, which has a population of over one million, is a historic city that served as the capital of Iran several times between the 13th and 16th centuries. Your bazaar is a UNESCO World Heritage.

Iran is where two main tectonic plates meet and experiences frequent seismic activity.

The country has suffered a series of major disasters in recent decades, including in the ancient city of Bam, which was decimated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2003 that killed at least 31,000 people.

In 1990, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million people homeless, reducing dozens of cities and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.

Iran has experienced at least two other significant earthquakes in recent years: one in 2005 that killed more than 600 people and another in 2012 that left about 300 dead. (AFP) MRJ