Iran earthquake kills three and injures hundreds

A 5.9-magnitude quake hit city of Khoy in West Azerbaijan province, injuring 800, say officials

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At least three people have been killed and more than 800 injured after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in Iran late on Saturday, state media said.

The quake struck in the north-west of the country near the border with Turkey, hitting the city of Khoy in West Azerbaijan province at 9.44pm local time (10.14pm UAE time), according to the Seismological Centre of the University of Tehran.

Panicked residents fled their homes as buildings collapsed and rubble crushed cars, with hundreds seeking shelter from freezing winter conditions in evacuation centres. More than 20 aftershocks rattled the region.

“This incident has left 816 injured and three dead,” West Azerbaijan governor Mohammad Sadegh Motamedian was quoted as saying by Irna news agency.

People were seen wrapped in blankets and huddling around fires in the snow-dusted region, in images published by Iranian media, as state TV broadcast footage of major damage to residential buildings, including half-destroyed houses.

Buildings in 70 villages suffered quake damage, the state news agency reported, with rescuers clearing rubble to free those trapped in the area about 800km north-west of the capital Tehran.

Iran's Red Crescent Society chief Pirhossein Koolivand later said the search and rescue operations had finished, with no more survivors or bodies believed trapped.

Iran's Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi travelled to Khoy to observe the situation, where he said water, power and gas connections were affected but being restored, Irna reported.

Snow fell in some of the affected areas, with freezing temperatures and some power cuts reported, an emergency official told state television.

Iran is located on the boundaries of several major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity.

On January 18, a 5.8 quake near Khoy injured hundreds.

In February 2020, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake that rattled the western village of Habash-e Olya killed at least nine people across the border in neighbouring Turkey.

Iran's deadliest recorded quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 in the north of the country, that killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.

AFP contributed to this report

Updated: January 29, 2023, 11:46 AM