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IRAN DAILY, TEHRAN TIMES (Iran), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

TEHRAN - Iran has raised the death toll from Saturday's twin quakes in the north east of the country to 306, a day after calling off the search for survivors and stepping up the relief effort.

The official toll, presented by Health Minister Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi in a report to politicians and published on the parliament's website, was a big jump over the last count given on Sunday by Interior Minister Moustafa Mohammad-Najjar, who spoke of 227 dead and 1,380 injured, Al Jazeera reports.

"We have now finished search and rescue operations and we are working to provide shelter and food to the survivors," Mohammad-Najjar told state television.

Iran’s Interior Minister told Iran Daily that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had given orders on Sunday for home reconstruction to begin immediately because of the harsh winter the region will experience at the end of the year.

Iran's Red Crescent has taken over a sports stadium and provided 6,000 tents to some 16,000 people left homeless.

According to the Institute of Geophysics of the University of Tehran, a 6.2 quake on the Richter scale hit the city of Ahar at 4:53 p.m. local time on Saturday, and a 6 magnitude quake struck the city of Varzaqan only 11 minutes later -- followed by multiple aftershocks.

The Tehran Times reports that of the 538 villages in the the northwestern Iranian province of East Azerbaijan, 110 sustained about 40 to 100 percent damage; about 5000 buildings have been damaged.

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Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Soon after the Ukraine war began, the world began to ask: Where next? There were fears not just that Russia would try to expand its sphere of influence in the region, but that the war could set off other simmering conflicts around the world.

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The first to come to mind was China and Taiwan. And so now, five months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the high-stakes visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the highest-ranking U.S. state visit in 25 years that was meant to show support for Taiwan, and has prompted a flurry of threats from China.

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