Northwestern Iran was struck Saturday by a series of major earthquakes and strong aftershocks, as state TV reported at least 180 dead, 1,350 injured and at least six villages leveled.
Officials asked residents in affected areas to stay outdoors through the night, the Fars news agency reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the first earthquake, which struck midday, at magnitude 6.4, followed by a 6.3 quake. There were numerous aftershocks, registering as high as magnitude 5.0.
The death toll reported on local media steadily climbed throughout the day, with the latest reports suggesting a widening disaster in East Azerbaijan province.
An early report said at least 60 villages sustained damage ranging from 50 to 80 percent, in addition to the six that were leveled.
Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one earthquake every day on average, although the vast majority are so small they go unnoticed.
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