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3,000 injured and more than 300 killed in Northwest Iran

on August 14, 2012

The death toll from two earthquakes on Saturday in Northwest Iran killed at least 306 people and leaving 3,037 injured.

Scores of villages were destroyed or damaged by the quakes, which struck East Azarbaijan province northeast of Tabriz, the country’s fourth-largest city.

Khalil Saei, the provincial director of crisis management, told the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency that the cities of Ahar and Varzaqan were the hardest hit.

The first earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.4, hit Saturday at 4:53 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which said the epicenter was 23 kilometers (14 miles) southwest of Ahar. The agency measured 11 aftershocks.

Eleven minutes later, a second quake struck. This one measured 6.3 and had an epicenter 32 kilometers (20 miles) west-southwest of Ahar. At a depth of less than 10 kilometers (6 miles), both quakes were shallow. The shaking that follows an earthquake is worse in shallow quakes.

Iran sits on major fault lines — the collision of the Arabia and Eurasia plates — and has been prone to devastating earthquakes.

Nine years ago, 30,000 people died in an earthquake in Bam in southeastern Kerman province. In 1990, about 50,000 were killed in a quake near the Caspian Sea.

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