Red Crescent on the ground following earthquakes in north-west Iran

Published: 12 August 2012 12:42 CET

A series of earthquakes yesterday in north-west Iran has left hundreds dead and thousands without homes. The Red Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRCS) has deployed staff and volunteers to assist in rescue and relief operations.

Early estimates suggest that approximately 227 people have been killed, 2,000 injured and many more may still be trapped in the rubble. 100 villages in the region have been affected.

Both quakes measured above magnitude 6 and occured within just a few minutes of each other. the US Geological Survey said that there were at least 40 aftershocks following the initial earthquakes yesterday afternoon. The epicentre is believed to be near the towns of Haris and Varzeghan in East Azerbaijan province.

The IRCS has erected over 5,000 tents in the area to provide emergency shelter for those affected by the earthquake. The organization said that up to 16,000 people needed immediate assistance. Supplies of blankets, food and other emergency items are already being distributed. 92 teams from 14 provincial Red Crescent branches are already working in the area with the assistance of three helicopters, 71 ambulance crews and 40 additional relief vehicles. In all the organization says that over 800 staff and volunteers are on the ground supporting the relief effort.

While no international assistance has yet been requested, the Turkish Red Crescent Society said it was on standby to provide help as needed.