According to information from the Turkish authorities, a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck northwest Iran, completely leveling six villages and causing severe damage to another 60 villages in other regions. The effects were felt in the Iranian capital of Tehran and in Varzeghan, Ahar and Heris in the Eastern Azerbaijan province.
The US Geological Survey measured Saturday's first quake at magnitude 6.4 and said it struck 60 kilometers northeast of the city of Tabriz at a depth of 9.9 kilometers (6.2 miles). A second quake measuring 6.3 struck 49 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Tabriz 11 minutes later at a similar depth.
In a statement released on Saturday, the ministry expressed Turkey's condolences over the earthquakes which had caused than 250 deaths and around 2,000 injuries and significant property loss in Iran. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, to express his condolences. Meanwhile, sources close to the region have said that the number of deaths had exceeded 300 as of Sunday.
The statement noted that Turkish authorities in Iran, including the Turkish Consulate General in Tabriz, have contacted Iranian officials conveying Turkey's readiness to provide aid. Meanwhile, the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) has stated that the organization has been on alert since the disaster first struck, preparing aid items including food, drinking water and blankets, and is awaiting authorization from the Iranian Red Crescent to enter the region.
"As a country that has bitter experiences of earthquakes and natural disasters, Turkey will provide aid to countries that are in trouble as a humanitarian duty and will make every effort to provide quick assistance to those in need," the statement said, expressing the ministry's wishes for a speedy recovery to its "friends," the Iranian people.
Meanwhile, sources close to the region claimed that the state has not given the earthquakes, which struck Azerbaijani-populated regions, enough attention.
"The government-linked news agencies have just ignored the earthquakes. It was only after five or six hours after the event that some reports were released on official media channels. Even the Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement came earlier than Iranian news reports," Azeri Turks from the region told Today's Zaman on Sunday.
They claimed that "Iran does not see the region as its own."
Azerbaijani Turks, comprising the largest ethnic group in Iran with a population of 35 million, have longstanding problems with the Iranian central regime, which has been growing more serious after the Shiite revolution.