Aug 12, 2012 12:06 AM by Siera Santos
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Two strong earthquakes have leveled villages and damaged homes in northwestern Iran on Saturday, killing at least 180 people and injuring more than 1,350 others.
Iranian state TV reports thousands of people spent the night outdoors as aftershocks rattled the area.
The U.S. Geological Survey says Saturday's first quake at 4:53 p.m. local time had a magnitude of 6.4 and struck 37 miles northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 6.2 miles. Iranian TV says its epicenter was a region about 200 miles northwest of the capital Tehran. The U.S.G.S. reports .the second quake with a magnitude of 6.3 struck 11 minutes later. Its epicenter was 29 miles northeast of Tabriz at a depth of 6.1 miles.
The TV report says the quakes hit three towns in East Azerbaijan province. At least six villages were totally leveled, and 60 others sustained damage ranging from 50 to 80 percent.
At least 10 aftershocks jolted the same area and were felt in a wide region near the Caspian Sea.
Authorities are afraid the death toll could rise as rescuers try to reach people trapped under rubble.