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Tehran: At least 80 people died in two strong earthquakes that jolted northwest Iran on Saturday, the head of the regional natural disasters centre, Khalil Saie, told state television.
The figure was double that given just a short while earlier by the head of the country's emergency services, Gholamreza Masoumi, who was quoted by the ISNA news agency saying "about 40 to 50 people have been killed."
Masoumi was referring to the biggest cities in the region and a neighbouring province.
The two temblors, registering 6.2 and 6.0 on the moment magnitude scale according to Tehran University's Seismological Centre, struck within minutes of each other, damaging scores of villages northeast of Tabriz.
The US Geological Survey, which monitors quakes worldwide, ranked them as more powerful than that, at 6.4 and 6.3, respectively.