More than 500 believed dead in Iran quake

Published February 22nd, 2005 - 05:03 GMT

A powerful earthquake shook central Iran on Tuesday, destroying villages and killing at least 300 people, according to the provincial natural disasters headquarters. The dead were mainly reported in the provincial cities of Zarand and Ravar. The death toll is expected to rise to more than 500 dead, Hossein Amiri an MP from Zarand told IRNA
Over 1000 people,  mainly in Zarand, were wounded in the strong quake which hit the southeastern Kerman province early Tuesday, it added. Two hospitals in Zarand are full with the wounded people, indicated reports.

Secretary of the provincial headquarters Mohsen Salehi told IRNA at least five villages have been damaged by 20 to 70 percent. He added relief workers have been dispatched to the quake-stricken areas. Rain, blocked roads and the mountainous terrain have made it difficult for heavy vehicles to remove the bodies trapped under the debris.

According to the seismological base of Tehran University's Geophysics Institute, the tremor occurred at 05:55 hours local time (0225 GMT).

The Institute located the epicenter of the quake on the outskirts of Zarand, measuring 30.79 degrees in latitude and 56.90 degrees in longitude. The 6.4 Richter scale quake also shook the neighboring cities of Yazd, Meybod and Behabad.

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