TEHRAN, Mar 31 (Reuters) A strong earthquake hit west Iran this morning killing at least 15 people and heavily damaging villages in the area, Iranian state media reported.
State television reported 263 injured people were taken to two hospitals in Boroujerd, a city in the area where the quake struck. Earlier, the official IRNA news agency reported others had been taken to a hospital in Doroud, in the same area.
The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.0.
Ali Barani, head of the disaster control committee in the governor's office of Lorestan province, where Boroujerd and Doroud are, said the death toll so far was 15 people, state television reported.
Kamran Sabzian, a doctor from a Doroud hospital, said he expected the number of casualties to rise, IRNA reported.
''The level of damage in some villages around Silakhor in the same area is very high and we can predict that the death toll and the number of injured could rise,'' he said.
A state television reporter, without citing a source, said 30 to 40 villages between Doroud and Boroujerd had been damaged by between 10 and 90 percent.
The quake this morning was preceded by two smaller tremors measuring 4.7 and 5.1 last night, IRNA reported.
The quakes brought frightened residents in the area into the streets and some set up tents to spend the night outside their homes after the initial jolts, IRNA reported.
Doroud Governor Nasrollah Rashno said telephone lines, electricity and gas supplies had been cut in some areas by the initial quakes, IRNA said.
REUTERS PV DS1115