Strong earthquake kills 7 in southeast Iran

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By Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Rescue teams managed to pull all survivors from under the rubble Tuesday after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck a remote area in southeastern Iran late the previous night, killing seven and injuring 33 people.

Iranian state TV said the strong quake hit Hosseinabad, a small town of a few hundred residents in a sparsely populated Chah Malek region in the country's southeast late on Monday.

Mahmoud Mozaffar, head of the rescue department of Iran's Red Crescent, told state TV that four of the fatalities were school students, three of them girls. He said the rescue operation ended around noon Tuesday and that no more fatalities were expected.

Earlier Tuesday, Mohammad Barzang, the governor of Rigan, another small town in the stricken area, said collapsed houses in three remote villages had buried dozens under the rubble.

Barzang said relief teams were dispatched to the area and that more than 2,000 families needed tents to live in since their houses were damaged up to 60 percent.

The area is not far from the historical city of Bam, site of a devastating 2003 earthquake of similar strength that killed more than 26,000 people.

Telephone contacts with the stricken area were cut and the water supply system was badly affected but electricity was restored, the TV reported. It said the epicenter was at a depth of 3 miles (5 kilometers), about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Bam.

The official IRNA news agency said as many as 40 aftershocks rocked the region following the quake, including one magnitude 5 tremor.

Even moderate quakes have killed thousands of people in the past in the Iranian countryside, where houses are often built of earthen bricks.

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one slight earthquake every day on average.