Hospitals struggle to cope as earthquakes kill 250 in Iran


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The Independent Online

Overcrowded hospitals in north-west Iran struggled to cope with thousands of earthquake victims yesterday as rescuers raced to reach remote villages after two powerful quakes killed at least 250 people.

There were long queues of survivors waiting to be treated after Saturday's 6.4 and 6.3 quakes near Tabriz and Ahar, Iranian media reported.

Aidin, a Tabriz resident, said he went to give blood at a local hospital on Saturday and saw staff struggling to cope with the influx of patients.

Casualty figures are expected to rise, as some of the injured were in a critical condition while hundreds were trapped under rubble. Many villages are hard to reach by road, which has also hindered rescue efforts.

Thousands of people have moved into makeshift camps or slept in streets after the quakes, in fear of more aftershocks, which numbered 55 by last night. "I saw some people whose home was destroyed, and all of their livestock killed," said Tahir Sadati, a local photographer. "People need help, they need warm clothes, more tents, blankets and bread."

The most casualties were in the villages near Ahar, Varzaghan and Harees, close to the city of Tabriz, Iranian media reported.