A quake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale struck Ahar city in the East Azerbaijan province at 4.00 p.m. Saturday, flattening homes and buildings in a wide area.
Almost an hour later, another quake with magnitude 6 hit Varzaqan in the same province, causing more destruction.
"(At least) 250 people have been killed and more than 1,800 have been injured," said Iran's Deputy Interior Minister Hassan Qaddami.
Iran earthquake. Photo: AFP
Thousands were forced to remain outdoors following at least 35 aftershocks. Authorities said a total of 110 villages have been affected.
The deadliest quake in Iran was in June 1990 when a 7.7-magnitude tremor killed some 37,000 people and left over 100,000 injured in the northwestern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan.