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Deadly earthquakes in Iran



TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) — At least 50 people died and another 400 were injured in two strong earthquakes that jolted northwestern Iran Saturday near the city of Tabriz, the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency said.

The first earthquake, a magnitude 6.4, hit at 4:53 p.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Just minutes later a second quake, measuring 6.3, struck.

The geological survey recorded five strong aftershocks.

Residents of Tabriz as well as the nearby towns of Ahar, Marand and Jolfa felt the earth trembling, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Initial reports said some buildings in Tabriz suffered structural damage and power lines were down. Telephone lines were down in Ahar. The extent of the damage was still being assessed.

Authorities dispatched rescue teams to Tabriz and Ahar as well as to the affected villages of Khormaloo and Harif, the semi-official Islamic Students News Agency said.

Iran sits on major faultlines and has been prone to devastating earthquakes.

In 2003, 30,000 people died in an earthquake in Bam in southeastern Kerman province. In 1990, about 50,000 were killed in a quake that hit near the Caspian Sea.

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