Two powerful earthquakes have hit Iran just minutes apart, killing at least 87 people and injuring some 600. Rescue efforts have been hampered by downed telecommunications.
Two strong earthquakes struck the northwest of Iran on Saturday killing at least 87 people and injuring some 600 across dozens of villages, the head of the regional natural disasters center, Khalil Saie, told Iranian news agency ISNA.
“We are asking people not to panic. Help is arriving and rescuers are at the scene,” Saie said. Assessment groups have been sent to investigate the damage, he told the agency. “The possibility of destroyed homes exists in a number of villages.”
Officials said panicked residents fled into the streets as the powerful 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 4.53 p.m. local time. An aftershock, measuring 6.3 on the scale was reported 11 minutes later according to measurements taken by the US Geological Survey.
The epicenter of the quake was 60 kilometers (40 miles) from Tabriz, close to the town of Ahar. Both tremors occurred at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles). A series of nine smaller aftershocks rapidly followed the first two.
Tabriz, home to 1.5 million people, managed to escape relatively unscathed except for a few obvious cracks in buildings, said officials at Tehran University’s Seismological Center.