Several villagers killed as two major quakes strike southern Iran
TEHRAN (AFP) Jul 11, 2003
Several villagers were killed in southern Iran late Thursday by two successive earthquakes measuring 5.6 and 5.8 on the Richter scale, officials and state media said.

"Five villages were hit and badly damaged. At least one person is confirmed dead," a source in the interior ministrys natural disasters unit told AFP.

He said the quakes struck the villages of Dareh Shur, Deheh No, Debehran, Darva and Shahre Pir, all located around Hajjiabad, a small town in Fars province, located some 200 kilometers (130 miles) southeast of the city of Shiraz and approximately 800 kilometers (480 miles) south of the capital Tehran.

The official news agency IRNA quoted a local emergencies official, Hamid Taghizadeh, as saying the quakes inflicted ''serious damage''.

Officials from Tehrans seismological institute said the first quake struck at 9:36 pm (1706 GMT) Thursday, and the second at 10:12 pm (1742 GMT).

National television said the first quake lasted 12 seconds and cut off electricity supplies to the area, and state radio said rescue teams were working in the area into the early hours of Friday.

It also quoted another provincial official as saying the "number of dead is not very high".

Earthquakes are frequent in Iran, and about 950 have hit the country since 1991, killing a total of 17,600 people and injuring another 53,500, according to figures from Iran's official news agency IRNA.