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Strong Iran quake leaves conflicting reports on casualties

April 16, 2013|By Ramin Mostaghim
  • People evacuate buildings and gather on a road after an earthquake in eastern Iran on Tuesday was felt in Karachi, Pakistan. The quake was estimated to have a magnitude of at least 7.5, authorities said, but there were conflicting reports regarding any casualties.
People evacuate buildings and gather on a road after an earthquake in eastern… (Shakil Adil / Associated…)

TEHRAN — A powerful earthquake hit southeastern Iran near Pakistan on Tuesday, but the extent of damage and casualties was not immediately clear.

Iranian state television initially reported at least 40 people had died in the quake, which Iranian seismologists estimated at magnitude 7.7. But authorities later said no one was known to have died in Iran. State TV said 27 people had been injured.

The quake struck at 3:14 p.m. local time, with its epicenter in Saravan, an isolated region not far from Iran's borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The U.S. Geological Survey registered the quake at a magnitude of 7.8.

The Associated Press, citing Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency, said the quake was the strongest in Iran in more than half a century.

A parliament member from Saravan, Mir Morad Zehi, predicted many casualties since many people live in clay and mud-brick homes. “People’s needs will be met as soon as possible. But we feel concern, especially for the people of the villages," Zehi told local media.

However, seismologist Behnam Ovaisi told state television that the population density around the epicenter was relatively low, limiting the likely number of victims.

Buildings trembled from the quake as far away as Karachi, Pakistan, and New Delhi. The quake occurred a week after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Bushehr, near the location of an Iranian nuclear power plant on the Persian Gulf. Authorities said 37 people died in that quake.


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