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Strong Earthquake Shakes Iran

Tehran, 28 May 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Officials in Iran are assessing the damage caused by a strong earthquake felt throughout much of the country today.

Tehran, 28 May 2004 -- Latest reports say at least 23 people were killed and at least 100 injured in the earthquake that rattled northern Iran today.

Massoud Emami, the governor of Qazvin Province, told state television that some 80 villages have suffered in the quake. Iranian government officials are playing down fears of a big death toll, however. Tehran University's seismological center says the tremor measured 5.5 on the Richter scale. It was measured by other monitors as registering 6.2 on the Richter scale.

State media have put the quake's epicenter some 80 kilometers north of Tehran. The tremor was strongly felt in the capital, spreading panic among residents.

Speaking by telephone from Tehran, Iranian journalist Arash Ghavidel described the scene to Radio Farda: "Today around 17:05 in the afternoon [14:35 Prague time], Tehran was shaken by a dreadful earthquake. Everything was shaking, and all the people from Tehran came out of their houses, and they were really scared. The earthquake and the tremors were very horrible."

The earthquake was strong enough to be felt in parts of southeastern Turkey. The state news agency IRNA says several houses were destroyed in Mazandaran Province in the north.

(Radio Farda/Reuters/AFP/dpa)