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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 05:06 GMT 06:06 UK
Iran rescuers aid quake victims
Rescue efforts have been going on through the night in Iran following a violent earthquake which shook much of the north of the country on Friday.

About 30 people are reported to have been killed in towns and villages over a large area, its epicentre being in Mazandaran province by the Caspian Sea.

At least 18 people died when their cars were crushed by falling rocks on a busy mountain road.

A huge quake killed about 26,000 people last year in Bam, south-eastern Iran.


The latest quake was reportedly of magnitude 6.2 and struck at about 1700 local time (1330GMT) on Friday.

Dozens of after shocks were recorded but of diminishing intensity.

Throughout the night rescue workers were trying to get access to a 15km stretch of one of the main roads linking Teheran to the Caspian, through the rugged Elborz mountains.

There were numerous rockfalls along the road. The local governor said at least 60 vehicles were buried under the rocks.

The BBC's Jim Muir, in Tehran, says it is feared that the number of casualties there may rise as the rescue work proceeds.

Because of the nature of the terrain with its dramatic ravines, access both overland and even by helicopters is proving difficult.

Seismic fault line

The total number of injured is reported to be in the region of 150.

Army units are on alert to help with the relief effort.

The governor of the northern province of Qazvin told state TV that roads to several villages had been blocked by debris and the province had put out an appeal for aid.

The quake was felt in the capital, Tehran, where it shook buildings, shattering some windows, and sent people rushing out into the streets in panic.

The state news agency Irna said roads had been ripped apart in the worst-hit areas and there were reports of power cuts.

Iran straddles a seismic fault line, making it particularly prone to earthquakes.

Some 35,000 people died when a quake hit the Caspian province of Gilan in 190.

The BBC's Gail MacLellan
"Some of the victims died in their cars"

Iran lowers Bam earthquake toll
29 Mar 04  |  Middle East

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