Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP/GettyImages
UPDATE: The official death toll from the pair of earthquakes that shook northwestern Iran over the weekend climbed to 306 on Monday, as the search for bodies continues. Many of the dead are women and children.
Iran was hit by two quakes at 6.4 and 6.3 magnitudes just 11 minutes apart from each other on Saturday afternoon. At least 20 villages were completely leveled, and least 133 villages were damaged. An estimated 5,000 people were injured in the quakes.
The AFP reports that Iran has declined aid offers from United States, Germany, Turkey, Taiwan, Singapore and Russia, saying they have the resources to recover from the quake themselves.
But that confidence is being questioned by lawmakers representing the regions of Iran hit by the quake. Members of parliament complained to the government about tent shortages and questioned their claim that the government had rescued all survivors less than 24 hours after the natural disasters, Reuters reports.
Some of the villages hit hard by the quakes are so remote that they're inaccessible by car, making it a near impossibility that rescue workers could have reached—let alone cleared—every village with possible survivors that quickly, they explain.
Meanwhile, the Red Crescent is providing food, water, and shelter for some of those left homeless by the disaster. The Iranian government has approved a fund and grant program to assist in the rebuilding of homes before the winter, according to the AFP.
Sunday, August 2: The death toll from the two earthquakes that struck Iran’s northwest Saturday continues to increase. Nearly 300 people were killed, and around 5,000 are believed to be injured, although there seems to be little doubt those numbers will continue rising. Some of the injured are in critical condition and it appears hundreds of people may still be trapped under rubble, reports Reuters.
State television reported that officials had ceased rescue operations by early Sunday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. At least 20 villages were completely leveled and 133 suffered heavy damage.
The first quake that struck Iran Saturday took place at 4:53 p.m. and had a magnitude of 6.4, which was followed by another 6.3-magnitude earthquake 11 minutes later.
Saturday, August 11 at 2:17 p.m.: Two strong earthquakes killed at least 87 people in northwest Iran Saturday. Iran’s PressTV says the magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck the city of Ahar in the afternoon. Reports say six villages have been completely destroyed. Reuters points out that a second earthquake measuring 6.3 struck 11 minutes later. Officials urged residents in the affected areas to remain outdoors overnight due to the risk of further aftershocks.
Iran is located on fault lines and experiences at least one earthquake a day, although the vast majority go unnoticed, points out the Associated Press.