Iran pair rescued from quakes after three days: reports

Two people were pulled out alive from the rubble on Tuesday three days after weekend quakes levelled villages in northwestern Iran, state media reported, and well after authorities halted rescue operations.

The two were plucked from the smashed remains of their home after being detected by search dogs, state television and the official IRNA news agency reported, citing emergency workers.

IRNA said the pair, both in good health, were saved in a village near the town of Varzaqan, northeast of the city of Tabriz.

The hamlet was one of hundreds flattened by Saturday's twin quakes measuring 6.4 and 6.3 on the moment magnitude scale that killed 306 people and injured 3,000, according to an official toll.

The pair were rescued two days after Interior Minister Moustafa Mohammad-Najjar and his aide in charge of disaster management, Hossein Ghadami, declared a halt to rescue operations.

The officials had said there were no more survivors to be found.

Separately, the Fars news agency reported that an unspecified number of bodies were recovered on Tuesday, including that of a 27-year-old woman in the village.

Some officials and members of the Iranian public have criticised the official response to the earthquake, while others praised the rapid response of emergency services.

Iran's Red Crescent notably said it had refused offers of help from countries including Germany, Armenia, Turkey and Taiwan.

But Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi contradicted that on Monday by saying that, "under the current circumstances, (Iran) is now prepared to accept help from other countries for quake victims," IRNA reported.

The United States said it had also offered assistance but had received no reply from Iran, with which it has no direct diplomatic ties.

Qatar meanwhile dispatched a Boeing 747 plane carrying 80 tonnes of food, warm clothes, blankets and tents to the area, Iran's ambassador in Doha, Abdollah Sohrabi, was quoted as saying by the Fars and ISNA news agencies.

Sohrabi said Qatar had separately ordered a medical team consisting of 40 doctors and nurses to be sent to Iran, but that Iran's Red Crescent rejected the offer, saying it had enough medical help on the ground.

According to Iranian media, Turkey on Monday sent one aid shipment -- two trucks carrying 20 tonnes of food and tents -- but that was denied entry into Iran.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, who on Tuesday confirmed the report about the Turkish aid, said protocol had to be observed in sending aid.

"If (aid shipments) are sent without coordination, this aid is stopped and cannot be delivered," ISNA quoted him as saying.

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