Strong earthquake kills seven in Iran
TEHRAN: A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck southeastern Iran late Monday, killing at least seven people and injuring 33 others, Iranian state TV reported.
The report said the strong quake hit Hosseinabad, a small town of a few hundred residents in a sparsely populated Chah Malek region of southeastern Iran, at 22:12 local time (18:42 GMT).
Mohammad Barzang, the governor of Rigan, another small town in the stricken area, said collapsed houses in three remote villages had buried dozens under the rubble. He said rescue teams dispatched to the area managed to save many of those trapped.
Barzang said the teams were still working Tuesday to pull others out of the rubble but that there was no indications the death toll would rise dramatically.
The area is not far from the historical city of Bam, site of a devastating 2003 earthquake of similar strength that killed more than 26,000 people.
Telephone contacts to the stricken area have been cut off, the TV reported. It said the epicenter was at a depth of 3 miles (5 kilometers), about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Bam.
State TV reported Tuesday that as many as 25 aftershocks rocked the region following the quake late Monday, including one magnitude 5 tremor.
A senior government official, Javad Kamali, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Tuesday that the quake also caused serious damage to buildings and the infrastructure of region. Kamali said relief teams have been dispatched to the stricken areas.
"There are efforts under way to reopen some hard-toreach roads blocked by the quake," he said.
Even moderate quakes have killed thousands of people in the past in the Iranian countryside, where houses are often built of earthen bricks.
Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one slight earthquake every day on average. -Ap