Iranian earthquakes kill 38 and destroy 12 villages

Two powerful earthquakes struck several villages in north-east Iran yesterday, killing at least 38 people and injuring more than 90, Iranian television reported.

Twelve villages in the Khorasan province were destroyed by the two quakes, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. A magnitude-5.4 quake hit the villages of Quchan, Esfarayen, Shirvan, Sabzevar and Neyshabur at 1:24 pm local time. Forty minutes later, a magnitude-6.1 quake hit the area, IRNA and Iranian television said.

Their epicentre was outside Bojnurd, about 360 miles north-east of the capital Tehran. The governor of Bojnurd, Hassan Movahedian, told IRNA that 35 villages in the area had been affected by the earthquakes, which had also damaged and blocked roads in the area. The Interior Ministry has set up a relief operation in Bojnurd and two helicopters have been sent to the affected villages to help in the rescue efforts. AP - Tehran