A victim of Saturday's earthquake sits on the ruins of buildings at the village of Bajebaj near the city of Varzaqan in northwestern Iran, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012. Twin earthquakes in Iran have killed at least 250 people and injured over 2,000, Iranian state television said on Sunday, after thousands spent the night outdoors after their villages were leveled and homes damaged in the country's northwest. Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one earthquake every day on average, although the vast majority are so small they go unnoticed. (AP Photo/ISNA, Ruhollah Vahdati)
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- In a change of heart, Iran said Tuesday it now welcomes foreign aid for victims of the deadly twin earthquakes that hit the country's northwest over the weekend.
The remarks indicated authorities were struggling to cope with the quakes' aftermath. Critics charged they failed to react quickly enough to help the region along the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia, where the 6.4 and 6.3 magnitude quakes Saturday killed 306 people and injured more than 3,000.
"We would welcome help by any country," said Iran's parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, during his visit to the earthquake-stricken area on Tuesday.
Iran's government said it has provided shelter for about 50,000 people who lost their homes during the quakes, which have been followed by scores of aftershocks.
A magnitude 5.3 aftershock on Tuesday afternoon jolted the town of Varzaqan again, the semioffical Fars news agency reported. Varzaqan was one of the weekend epicenters.
The Tuesday aftershock quake also rocked Tabriz, the provincial capital, where frightened people poured into streets. No further casualties were reported. Many Tabriz residents have stayed outdoors, some in public parks, since the first tremors.
The weekend quakes hit the towns of Ahar, Haris and Varzaqan in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan. At least 12 villages were destroyed, and 425 others sustained damage ranging from 50 to 80 percent of their buildings, state TV and news agencies reported. The stricken region has a population of about 300,000.
Many roads and other infrastructure were heavily damaged. State TV showed relief workers distributing tents and helping survivors, mainly in rural areas. Authorities said the quake caused some $600 million in damage.
Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. In 2003, some 26,000 people were killed by a 6.6 magnitude quake that flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam.