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Iran: Earthquake Leaves Some 500 Dead, Thousands Homeless

Tehran, 22 June 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A powerful earthquake in northwestern Iran has killed at least 500 people, injured 1,500, and left tens of thousands homeless. Dozens of mountain villages are reported to be damaged or destroyed in the quake, measured at 6.0 on the open-ended Richter scale. Iran's official IRNA news agency reports that many people are still trapped in rubble and more fatalities are expected.

Red Crescent officials say 5,000 houses have been destroyed and 25,000 people made homeless. A series of aftershocks inflicted more damage.

President Mohammad Khatami issued a message of condolence to the Iranian nation and instructed the Interior Ministry to work with other agencies to act quickly in offering assistance to the victims.

The quake was centered near Bouynzahra, about 200 kilometers west of Tehran, in Qazvin Province. Bouynzahra Governor Ali Mousavi said the quake devastated the water and power infrastructure in the area.