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Iran Quake Relief Efforts Under Way

More than half the 600 villages in the affected area have been damaged.
Relief operations are under way in northwestern Iran after two strong earthquakes left more than 300 people killed.

Iranian officials have raised the death toll from the two earthquakes that struck the country on August 11 to 306 dead.
Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi told parliament on August 13 that 3,037 people were injured.
The quakes struck near Tabriz, followed by dozens of aftershocks. Two days of mourning have been declared in the region.
Interior Minister Mohammad Najjar told journalists that search-and-rescue operations have ended and efforts have now shifted to providing food and shelter to survivors.
He said more than half of the 600 villages in the affected area had been damaged and a dozen or more had been completely razed.
RFE/RL's Radio Farda spoke by telephone to a resident of the town of Ahar on August 12.

"Relief efforts are good and the distribution of food is better when compared with distribution of tents and blankets and other materials that people need right now. Difficulties on the Ahar-Tabriz road and other roads to other cities delayed rescuers and relief supplies. People are sleeping on blankets laid out on the ground in parks and they have tents outside cities," the resident said.
Iran's Red Crescent has provided 6,000 tents to some 16,000 people left homeless or too afraid to return to their houses.
State television reported that 44,000 food packages and thousands of blankets were being handed out.
Reports said overcrowded hospitals in the region struggled to cope with the injured.
AFP news agency said Iran had turned down offers of help from other countries, saying it was able to cope by itself. However, ITAR-TASS reported that neighboring Azerbaijan has sent a convoy of some 25 trucks with relief supplies including tents, sleeping bags, and water.
Iran is located on several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters
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