A 6.4-magnitude earthquake has hit southeast Iran early this morning at 02:30 GMT. The quake was centred on the town Zarand in the Kerman province, 740km from the capital, Tehran.
The latest death toll stands at 400 with more than 1,000 injured, according to Iranian officials. The quake has badly affected mainly villages, and 70% of the buildings in six villages around Zarand have been damaged or destroyed.
Officials have reported that major towns have apparently escaped serious damage. This means the toll should not be as high as the many thousands killed in quakes in Iran in the past.
According to the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) has been delivering speedy aid to victims as soon as the quake occurred. IRCS has a mandate from the government to coordinate rescue and relief services in disasters.
IRCS teams are distributing tents, blankets and food supplies. Apart from IRCS helicopters, the government has provided three aeroplanes to transport Red Crescent relief items.
To increase the efficiency of relief work, IRCS has deployed teams from the neighbouring provinces of Esfahan, Sistan and Baluchestan, Yazd and Hormozgan, as well as from 10 cities in Kerman.
Mostafa Mohaghegh of the Federation, who spoke with Iranian Red Crescent officials, told Reuters in Geneva, "We were told there is no need for international rescue teams. Everything is under control, this size (earthquake) is manageable."
He explained that most of the buildings in the affected rural areas are one-story, so the operation of search and rescue is not very complicated.
However, the relief work has been delayed by adverse weather. Because of heavy snow and rain in the country, helicopters have found it difficult to fly. Authorities say it may take up to three days to clear rubble.
The centre of the earthquake, Zarand is just 160 miles from Bam, which was devastated by an earthquake that killed 31,000 people just over a year ago.