Two die, 241 injured in Iran earthquake

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A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck western Iran near the border with Iraq early Sunday, killing two people and injuring more than 200, officials said.

The shallow quake hit 26 kilometres (16 miles) southwest of the city of Javanrud in Kermanshah province, the US Geological Survey said, near the site of a powerful quake last year that killed hundreds.

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The head of the emergency department at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Saeb Sharidari, told state news agency IRNA that two people were killed and 241 injured, six critically.

Sharidari said the two dead were a pregnant woman and a 70-year-old man who suffered a heart attack.

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IRNA quoted local officials saying that electricity had been cut to 70 villages but that it was restored to at least 50 by dawn.

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The provincial head of the Red Crescent, Mohammad Reza Amirian, said there had been at least 21 aftershocks.

He said there were potential problems with drinking water due to damaged infrastructure in villages, but that it had not yet been necessary to distribute food and tents.

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Kermanshah governor Houshang Bazvand told the Tasnim news agency that electricity had been temporarily cut to several villages.

A crisis centre was set up, with hospitals and relief organisations placed on alert.

But the local director of crisis management, Reza Mahmoudian, told the Mehr news agency that “the situation was under control” and no request for help had been sent to neighbouring provinces.

There were reports that the quake was felt far across the border into Iraq.

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Images on social media showed people being rushed to hospitals, but suggested relatively light damage to infrastructure.

Iran sits on top of two major tectonic plates and sees frequent seismic activity.

Kermanshah is still recovering from a devastating 7.3-magnitude quake that struck last November, killing 620 people in the province and another eight people in Iraq.

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That quake left more than 12,000 people injured and damaged some 30,000 houses, leaving huge numbers homeless at the start of the cold season in the mountainous region.

There was criticism that much of the new social housing built as part of a scheme championed by ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had failed to withstand the tremor.

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President Hassan Rouhani said those responsible would be held to account.

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Iran’s deadliest quake in recent years was a 6.6-magnitude tremor that struck the southeast in 2003, decimating the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killing at least 31,000 people.

In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless, reducing dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.

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