At least 50 people have been killed and up to 800 others injured by a strong earthquake in Iran. It measured six on the Richter scale and hit an area of the Lorestan province in the west of the country. Some 300 villages between the towns of Doroud and Boroudjerd have either been partially or totally destroyed.
Although the death toll looks certain to rise, authorities say the disaster could have been much worse. Tremors felt overnight might have helped keep the number of victims down because many villagers left their homes well before the main quake struck. Iran frequently suffers earthquakes. The most deadly one in recent years killed more than 30,000 people at Bam in 2003.