Image: Earthquake victim mourns husband's death.
Raheb Homavandi  /  Reuters
An Iranian woman whose husband died in Friday's earthquake mourns in front of her destroyed house, in the western province of Qazvin, on Saturday.
updated 5/29/2004 11:09:54 AM ET 2004-05-29T15:09:54

Army helicopters ferried rescue teams into mountain villages in northern and central Iran on Saturday, where a senior Iranian Red Crescent official said the death toll from a powerful earthquake rose to 35 and that 250 people were injured.

Twenty aftershocks were reported after Friday's quake, including one of magnitude-4.6 Saturday morning in the southeastern city of Bam that state-run Tehran television reported caused "some damage but no casualties." In Bam, 26,000 people died in a magnitude-6.6 quake in December.

Bijan Dastari, a senior Red Crescent Society official, said that 35 people had been killed and 250 injured in the Friday afternoon earthquake, measured at magnitude-6.2 by the U.S. Geological Survey, that struck northern and central Iran. Casualty estimates Friday put the number killed at 23 and the injured at more than 100.

Two army helicopters ferried rescue teams into some of the more remote villages early Saturday, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. It said the quake severed road links to about a dozen villages.

The Iranian Red Crescent Society dispatched rescue teams with sniffer dogs, as well as medical teams, tents and lanterns to the stricken areas, IRNA reported. It quoted officials as saying about 50 villages were shaken by the quake late on Friday afternoon.

The villages hit hardest by were near Alamout, about 80 miles west of Tehran, ministry Khanjani told the AP Friday. "The damage is estimated between 30 to 50 percent," he said.

Sixteen people were buried in their cars and over 70 others injured by landslides and falling boulders on the mountainous Tehran-Chalous road, state-run television reported. Chalous is 55 miles north of Tehran.

The quake, which struck at 5:08 p.m. local time (1238 GMT), shook eight provinces in central and northern Iran. Tehran University's seismological center said there were 12 aftershocks, including one of magnitude-4.4.

The center said the quake had a 5.5 magnitude and said its epicenter was in the village of Baladeh, 43 miles northeast of Tehran, near the Caspian Sea.

In Tehran, the quake broke windows in parts of the city, causing panicked residents to rush outdoors and spend the night in the streets or parks for fear aftershocks would damage their buildings.

The broadcast said the quake damaged telephone lines in the area.

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes.

The USGS measured the depth of the quake at between 10 and 16 miles, which makes it fairly shallow but still deeper than the killer Bam quake, said USGS geophysicist Waverly Person in Golden, Colorado.

The USGS said it bases its magnitude calculation by looking at measurements of a number of seismographs around the world. This figure can sometimes differ from a measurement recorded closer to the epicenter.

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