Twenty-four people died and 33 were injured in the worst earthquake to hit the Azeri capital of Baku for 40 years, registering 6.5 on the Richter scale, state television reported Sunday.
Three people including a child were killed by falling masonry and 21 mostly elderly people died of heart attacks after Saturday's late-night quake which struck north of the capital Baku, local hospitals told AFP.
A total of 33 others were hospitalized, many of whom jumped out of buildings they feared were about to collapse.
Earlier reports said the quake had measured 6.0 points on the Richter scale.
The tremor knocked out the power supply in several districts of the city and sent panic-stricken people rushing into the streets, state television and witnesses said. Most residents refused to return to their homes for fear of another quake, huddling round big fires to stave off the cold.
President Heydar Aliyev appeared on television to offer his condolences to the families of the victims and to appeal for calm.
Special regional commissions were also set up Sunday to deal with the effects of the quake.
According to the chief of the Azeri civil defense department, Dzhavad Kasymov, tremors could be felt practically in all the regions of the country with many buildings suffering structural damage.
State television said the quake's epicenter was located around 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baku in the Caspian Sea. The quake struck at 10:09 p.m. (1809 GMT).
Some 30 aftershocks were felt. An Azerbaijani seismologist said the last one, at 8:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) Sunday, measured three on the Richter scale.
Shocks were also felt in Iran, Georgia, Armenia and Dagestan but no victims were reported there.
An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale hit southern Azerbaijan in 1998 causing material damage but no injuries -- BAKU (AFP)
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