(TEHRAN, Iran) — Northwestern Iran was rocked by magnitude 6.3 and 6.4 earthquakes on Saturday, leaving at least 300 people dead and thousands more injured in East Azerbaijan province.
Since many of the wounded were described in critical condition, the death toll is expected to rise significantly.
Iranian Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Ghadami said that six villages were completely destroyed, while more than half of the 110 villages affected by the temblors sustained damage of at least 50 percent.
The earthquakes struck a region mostly inhabited by ethnic Azeris, one of Iran’s largest minority populations.
Earthquakes are fairly common in Iran, which is situated on major fault lines. Nine years ago, over 25,000 people died when the historic city of Bam in Iran’s southeast was leveled by a 6.6-magnitude temblor.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tim Hume, CNN
Mohammed Tawfeeq and Gul Tuysuz, CNN