Thursday, March 30, 2006

Strong Quakes Kill at Least 38 in Iran
Two strong earthquakes flattened villages in western Iran early Friday, killing at least 38 and injuring hundreds, state media reported.

At least 10 tremors rocked the mountainous region throughout the night, state television reported, saying the first one had a preliminary magnitude of 5.1 and struck around 1 a.m. local time.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 5.7 magnitude quake shortly before 5 a.m. local time., followed by a 4.7 magnitude aftershock about 15 minutes later.

The quakes were centered near Boroujerd and Doroud, two industrial cities about 210 miles southwest of Tehran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. READ MORE

Provincial official Ali Barani said the quake flattened several villages.

State television said 38 bodies had been pulled out of destroyed houses in Silakhor, a region north of Doroud.

The broadcast said more than 700 people were injured, most of whom were in bed at the time.

The quake damaged buildings and toppled telephone lines in Doroud, IRNA quoted officials there as saying.

People in Doroud ran into the streets in panic when the first quake hit shortly after midnight. Many spent the remainder of the night outside.

"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.

But Chaharmiri said there were no scenes of destruction in Doroud such as those after similar sized quakes in Iran.

In February 2005, a 6.4-magnitude quake in southern Iran killed 612 people and injured 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. On average, it experiences at least one slight earthquake every day.