Three strong quakes in western Iran: 50 killed, 800 injured

Three strong earthquakes followed by several aftershocks have jolted western Iran , killing at least 50 people and injuring at least 850, state media reported Friday. The initial quake of magnitude 4.7 struck a mountainous region in western Iran late Thursday. It was followed by a quake of magnitude 5.1 that struck Boroujerd and Doroud, two industrial cities in western Iran , at 11:06 p.m. local time Thursday (1936 GMT), state television reported.

A third temblor of magnitude 6.0 hit Doroud and surrounding villages at 4:47 a.m. local time (0117 GMT) on Friday, the television reported. Nabi Bidhendi, head of Tehran Tehran University 's Geophysics Institute told the television that 12 aftershocks had been registered since the first quake.

The epicenter was in the mountainous villages south of Boroujerd and north of Doroud in western Iran . The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.7-magnitude quake at 4:47 a.m. , followed by a 4.7-magnitude 15 minutes later. Their epicenters were 210 miles (340 kilometers) southwest of Tehran .

The area had been hit by a 4.7-magnitude quake the day before, the USGS said. State-run television said 50 bodies have been pulled out of destroyed houses in Silakhor, a region north of Doroud.

The broadcast said most of the 850 people injured were in bed when the quake struck. Provincial official Ali Barani said several villages have been flattened.

Barani told IRNA that rescue teams have been sent to the region to help the survivors. The injured have been taken to hospitals in Boroujerd and Doroud, he said.

Doroud governor Nasrollah Rashno told IRNA that the quake has damaged buildings in rural areas and cut telephone lines. The earthquake was classified as moderate, but such quakes have killed thousands of people in the past in the Iranian countryside where houses are often built of bricks.

The quake in the middle of the night caused panic, with citizens in Doroud running out of their homes. Many spent the night in open space, residents said.

"We are afraid to get back home. I spent the night with my family and guests in open space last night," Doroud resident Mahmoud Chaharmiri told The Associated Press by telephone.

Chaharmiri said there were no scenes of destruction in Doroud as those seen in the past in the wake of similar quakes in other regions of Iran . In February 2005, a 6.4-magnitude quake rocked the town of Zarand in southern Iran , killing 612 people and injuring more than 1,400.

A magnitude-6.6 quake flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam in the same region in December 2003, killing 26,000 people. Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one slight earthquake everyday on average, reports the AP.


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