270 killed in earthquake in Iran

Tuesday February 22, 2005

A powerful earthquake hit south-east Iran today, killing 270 people, injuring nearly 1,000 others and destroying villages.

The quake, which measured 6.4 on the Richter scale, was centred on the town of Zarand in Kerman province, about 440 miles south-east of Tehran.

The quake razed villages near the epicentre, but major settlements in the area appeared to have escaped heavy damage, and officials said the death toll would not be as high as the many thousands killed in some past quakes of similar strength in Iran.

"In Zarand and Kerman only some walls have collapsed and there were no casualties," interior ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani said.

Mostafa Soltani, a spokesman at the office of Kerman's governor general, said officials expect the final death toll could reach 350. Earlier, provincial officials had reported up to 400 killed.

Kerman's governor, Mohammad Ali Karimi, was quoted as saying that "several villages have been destroyed".

Television footage showed a village almost flattened with few mud-brick walls still standing. Residents could be seen digging frantically amid collapsed slabs of concrete and piles of dirt in a bid to find people buried under the rubble. But cement buildings didn't appear to sustain heavy damage.

Mr Karimi told television stations that aid groups had been sent to the villages but he had not yet asked for any help from other provinces. Rain was hampering rescue efforts.

"All hospitals in Zarand are filled to capacity with the injured. Hospitals in the town cannot receive any more of the injured," a television news broadcast said.

The villages of Hotkan, Khanook, Motaharabad and Islamabad were worst hit, it said.

The head of Kerman's natural disaster headquarters, Mohsen Salehi, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying destruction in five villages was between 20% and 70%.

The tremor, which struck at 5.55am (0225 GMT), evoked memories of the devastating earthquake which hit the desert citadel of Bam, about 160 miles south-east of Zarand in December 2003. That 6.7 magnitude event razed the historic city and killed approximately 26,000 people.

Criss-crossed by several major fault lines, Iran - Opec's second largest oil producer - is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, natural disaster experts say. No major oil or gas production facilities are located in the affected area.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?