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6.5 earthquake kills at least 11 in Iran

A powerful earthquake struck a sparsely populated district of southeastern Iran, killing at least 11 people, injuring at least 40 and damaging 1,800 homes, news reports said Tuesday.

The magnitude 6.5 quake late Monday struck 30 villages populated by no more than 4,000 people, state radio reported. Rescue efforts and damage assessments were being hampered by downed phone lines and landslides that have blocked access to some villages, official media cited officials as saying.

“The area was mountainous, and many roads have been blocked,” Mohammad Barzang, a local official, told state radio. “From early morning we have sent loaders and bulldozers to open the roads.”

Almost exactly seven years ago in the same region, a catastrophic 6.6 earthquake struck the nearby city of Bam, killing more than 25,000 people and destroying a medieval castle that was one of Iran’s most treasured archaeological sites.

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The quake at 10:12 p.m. Monday appears to have been centered in the village of Hosseinabad, between the townships of Fahraj and Rigan, both less than 40 miles southeast of Bam in Kerman province, a vast region of high deserts and mountains.

Authorities in the provincial capital, also called Kerman, convened an emergency meeting to oversee rescue operations.

The Red Crescent, the local equivalent of the Red Cross, set up tents to shelter those whose homes were destroyed or left too unstable to live in. The Red Crescent of neighboring Turkey dispatched truckloads of blankets, tents and stoves to aid in the relief effort, the semiofficial Turkish Anatolia news agency reported.

Iran is one of the world’s most seismically active countries, crisscrossed by several major fault lines and hit nearly every day by earthquakes.

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Villagers continue to build mud-brick homes that collapse and smother them during earthquakes. State television reported that some residents in Monday’s earthquake zone remained pinned in their homes.

daragahi@latimes.com


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