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306 killed in twin quakes in Iran: minister

(Xinhua)

16:33, August 13, 2012

TEHRAN, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of Saturday's strong twin quakes in northwest Iran has risen to 306, the semi- official Fars news agency cited the Iranian health minister as saying on Monday.

Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi told Iran's Majlis (parliament) on Monday that the number of fatalities in the quake-stricken regions has amounted to 306.

Dastjerdi said that all others who were buried under the debris were rescued, according to Fars.

On Sunday, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that some 5,000 others were injured.

The quakes, which jolted East Azerbaijan province, damaged some 110 villages, Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Qaddami told Fars on Sunday.

At least 12 villages had been levelled thoroughly, while 60 others were damaged 50 percent to 80 percent in Ahar region in the province, Fars said.

Two days of mourning was announced in East Azerbaijan on Sunday, according to ISNA.

A 6.2-magnitude temblor, with a depth of 10 km, hit Ahar at 4: 53 p.m. (GMT 1223) Saturday, while another 6-magnitude earthquake, also with a depth of 10 km, struck nearby Varzaqan at 5:04 p.m. ( GMT 1234), according to Iranian Seismological Center.

On Dec. 26, 2003, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit the southern region of Bam. Over 30,000 died and 50,000 were injured, and 70 percent of the residential buildings in the region were reduced to debris.

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