Iran Earthquake 2012: Death Toll Increases To 300
August 13, 2012 12:14 PM EDT
A day after rescuers called off the search for survivors after Saturday's devastating Earthquake, Iran has raised its death toll to 306 from the 277 it was before, as reported by the semi-official Mehr news agency.
Heath Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi told a session in Parliament the number of casualties rose to 50 after the injured died in the hospital.
According to state television, the quakes struck the towns of Ahar, Haris and Varzaqan in East Azerbaijan province. Approximately 20 villages were destroyed, followed by some 36 aftershocks which were so intense they registered near the Caspian Sea. As a result, thousands of residents have been displaced.
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Ahmad Reza Shajiei, a senior government official in charge of rescue operations, claimed over 5,000 tents have been set up for shelter. Furthermore, around 44,000 food packages and thousands of blankets have been distributed to those in afflicted areas.
Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said the government will allocate funds to rebuild the houses destroyed in the quake. He's hoping for complete restoration before the arrival of winter's frigid temperatures .
The White House press secretary issued a heartfelt message of sympathy to victims in Iran.
"Our thoughts are with the families of those who were lost, and we wish the wounded a speedy recovery," it said." We stand ready to offer assistance in this difficult time."
Iran is situated on seismic fault lines. In 2003, around 26,000 people perished by a 6.6 magnitude quake which completely eradicated the city of Bam.