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