TEHRAN: Twin earthquakes that devastated rural villages in northwest Iran on the weekend killed a total of 306 people — most of them women and children — and injured 3,037, Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi said on Monday.
The official toll, presented in a report to lawmakers and published on the parliament's website, was a big jump over the last one given on Sunday by Interior Minister Moustafa Mohammad-Najjar, who spoke of 227 dead and 1,380 injured.
Vahid Dastjerdi said that, of the 306 deaths, hospital morgues counted 219 women and children and 49 men. The discrepancy with the total appeared to come from the fact that some of those killed were buried by their families before officials arrived at the scene.
She also said that, of the 3,037 injured, most — 2,011 — were given first aid at the scene, while the remainder were taken to hospitals for treatment.
Some 700 surgeries were performed, she said.
Two earthquakes measuring 6.4 and 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale rumbled through northwest Iran on Saturday, levelling mud brick and concrete homes in villages to the northeast of the city of Tabriz.
Authorities called off rescue operations on Sunday after saying all possible survivors had been recovered.
Vahid Dastjerdi said that “we are continuing the search for bodies.”