Earthquake in Iran Leaves 70 Dead

At least 70 people have been killed by a strong earthquake in western Iran with many survivors forced to sleep in the outdoors as they wait for aid.

|TOP|At least 70 people have been left dead after a strong earthquake in Iran Friday. More than a thousand have been left injured and many are without homes and livelihoods.

The earthquake hit the area surrounding the cities of Doroud and Boroujerd in the province of Lorestan, reports Ali Barani, head of the provincial emergency team for disasters, in a Reuters report.

It is believed many more were able to escape the big quake that hit Friday morning after strong tremors on Thursday night prompted many to leave their homes well in advance.

Moussa Shaban, 42, is one of many who took to sleeping in the outdoors along with his wife and six children. His ageing mother, who refused, was killed when the magnitude 6.0 earthquake reduced his home to rubble.

|AD|Hundreds of buildings across 330 villages, according to Barani, have been left badly damaged or completely reduced to rubble after the earthquake, although he said the death toll was unlikely to rise.

"If there are any changes, it will be very few," he said by phone from Lorestan.

Rescue officials reported that some survivors were able to be pulled alive from the rubble of the flattened buildings.

Many have been forced to sleep out as they wait for aid to arrive. Head of the local Red Crescent, Mohammad Ali Drekavandi, said: "Unfortunately we were not able to furnish all those affected by the quake with the needed tents."

According to the official IRNA news agency, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered emergency relief to be sent to the quake-hit regions. Sniffer dogs have also been sent to recover more survivors along with two helicopters.

The US has also set aside its political differences with Iran and offered US$50,000 as well as material supplies such as blankets, plastic sheets and temporary shelters.

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