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Rescue workers in Iran give up search for earthquake survivors

Iranians search through the rubble in the southern town of Shanbe.
(Mohammad Salehinia / Associated Press)

TEHRAN -- Rescue workers on Wednesday gave up the search for more survivors of an earthquake that flattened homes and killed dozens of people in southern Iran, according to local news reports.

The semiofficial Fars News Agency and other news outlets said the death toll from Tuesday’s temblor had risen to 37, although some people in the area put the figure higher. The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said 31 people had died.

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The earthquake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said measured magnitude 6.3, was reportedly felt as far away as Qatar and Bahrain. The Institute of Geophysics at the University of Tehran measured the temblor at 6.1, according to the Iranian Seismological Center.

Government ministers charged with overseeing roads and home construction visited the stricken areas Wednesday. First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi said those who had lost homes would receive 150 million rials, Fars reported, more than $4,000 under the current black market exchange rate.

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The villages of Baghan and Sena were among the hardest hit, although no official estimates of the damage have been released, said Reza Shabankara, a journalist who lives in the nearby area of Borazjan. Schools and businesses were slated to reopen Thursday in the nearby town of Shanbe, which was also affected.

Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that there was no damage to the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is about 60 miles from the quake’s epicenter. No radiation was unleashed, officials told the agency.

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