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One Dead, Nearly 100 Injured After Earthquake Hits Near Tehran


Iranian officials say a woman died and nearly 100 people suffered minor injuries after an earthquake struck near Tehran late on December 20, sparking panic in the capital and neighboring areas.

Authorities said on December 21 that the woman died in the town of Malard, close to the epicenter of the 5.2-magnitude earthquake, about 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran.

Morteza Salimi, head of the Iranian Red Crescent's Relief and Rescue Organization, said 97 people were injured, including "50 in Alborz, 34 in the capital, and 12 in Saveh."

The epicenter of the quake was near the towns of Malard and Meshkin Dasht, state media said, adding that it was also felt in Alborz, Qazvin, Qom, Gilan, and Markazi provinces.

More than a dozen aftershocks rippled through the area after the quake, which the Interior Ministry said caused no major damage.

Iran is on many major fault lines and is often hit by damaging earthquakes. Last month, a 7.3-magnitude quake killed more than 600 people in western Iran.

In Tehran and other cities and towns, the latest quake sent panicked residents into the streets and parks, and tens of thousands of people braved the cold to spend the night outside, fearing stronger aftershocks.

People started slowly returning to their homes again in the morning of December 21, the ISNA news agency reported.

Tasnim news agency quoted Minister of Sports Masud Soltanifar as saying sport centers in the cities of Karaj in Alborz Province and Eslamshahr in southern Tehran were open to the public to spend the night.

Some people also took refuge at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic, in southern Tehran.

Schools, universities, and government offices will be closed in Tehran, Alborz, and Qom provinces on December 21, state television said.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters
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