Two earthquakes in Iran kill 300 and injure 5,000
By Yeganeh Torbati
DUBAI (Reuters) - Overcrowded hospitals in northwest Iran struggled to cope with thousands of earthquake victims on Sunday as rescuers raced to reach remote villages after two powerful quakes killed nearly 300 people.
Thousands huddled in makeshift camps or slept in the street after Saturday's quakes for fear of more aftershocks, 60 of which had already struck. A lack of tents and other supplies left them exposed to the night chill, one witness told Reuters.
"I saw some people whose entire home was destroyed, and all their livestock killed," Tahir Sadati, a local photographer, said by telephone. "People need help, they need warm clothes, more tents, blankets and bread."
The worst damage and most casualties appeared to have been in rural villages around the towns of Ahar, Varzaghan and Harees, near the major city of Tabriz, Iranian media reported.
Tabriz resident Ahmad, 41, told Reuters his cousin living in a village near Ahar was killed and his body found.
"Nobody knows what happened to his wife and two daughters," aged 4 and 7, Ahmad said. "We fear that if rescuers don't get to them soon, they will lose their lives too if they're still alive."
But Iranian officials said rescue operations had ended by Sunday afternoon and that all those trapped beneath the rubble had been freed, Iran's English-language Press TV reported.
Many villages are hard to reach by road, hindering rescue efforts. Hospitals in Tabriz, Ardabil and other cities nearby took in many of the injured, residents and Iranian media said, and there were long queues of survivors waiting to be treated. Continued...