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Iran Death Toll Mounts, Thousands Injured as Aid Efforts Struggle

Common Dreams staff

Rescue teams search for victims in the earthquake-stricken village of Varzaghan in East Azarbaijan August 11, 2012. (Photo: Reuters /Farshid Tighehsaz/ISNA)

Hospitals were flooded with earthquake victims on Sunday as rescuers raced to reach remote villages after two earthquakes killed at least 250 across northern Iran on Saturday. Clean up efforts proved difficult while thousands of people gathered in makeshift camps or slept in the streets in cold weather for fear of more aftershocks, 40 of which had already hit.

Casualty figures are expected to rise. A lack of tents and medical supplies are hindering aid efforts and many injured are in critical condition. Well over 2,000 have been injured so far, while hundreds are still trapped under rubble.

"I saw some people whose entire home was destroyed, and all their livestock killed," Tahir Sadati, a local photographer, said by telephone. "People need help, they need warm clothes, more tents, blankets and bread."

The worst damage and most casualties occurred in hard to reach rural villages surrounding the towns of Ahar, Varzaghan and Harees, near the major city of Tabriz, Iranian media reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Saturday's first quake at 6.4 magnitude 37 miles northeast of the city of Tabriz. A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 30 miles northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later.

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