Brujerd, Iran - Iranian authorities were battling Saturday to provide shelter and aid for thousands of people left homeless by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in the west of the country that killed 70 people.

Amid fears of aftershocks, survivors of Friday's pre-dawn earthquake in the west of Lorestan province -- which also injured at least 1,265 -- spent the night in the cold open air as they awaited the distribution of relief items.

"The search and rescue operation is over, and we have started to house the survivors in the tents. Some 70 percent of the families have got their tents, and the rest will receive theirs by nightfall," Iranian deputy interior ministry Mohammad Baqir Zolqadr told state television.

Most of the parks in Brujerd and the provincial capital, Khoramabad were packed with people who had dragged blankets and other necessities with them in the expectation of enduring more aftershocks.

The Iranian Red Crescent announced that it has handed out 10,000 tents and another 15,000 are needed which will delivered by nightfall.

Local women were seen sitting in a circle, crying as they wailed for the loss of their loved ones, covering their heads with mud, and scratching their nails into their tear-stained faces.

Such mourning ceremonies are unique to the area.

"I wish I were killed with my sheep and cows," shouted the wailing Hossein Mousivand, 60, from a village close to the city of Burjerd.

According to local officials, the areas hit most by the quakes were villages between Brujerd and Doroud, which have a population of around 200,000 people. About 330 villages suffered 40 to 100 percent damage, according to officials.

"I lost all my livelihood, I had 140 sheep and cows, now I am left with a destroyed farm and only 50 animals," Mousivand, hitting his head against the only standing pillar in his ravaged farm, told an AFP photographer.

Zolqadr said that the people's most urgent needs were "food and sanitation" with Iran's volunteer Basij militia distributing bread, bottled mineral water, and conserved food.

He said there was as yet no sign of a risk of epidemic from the death of domestic animals: "We are disinfecting the area where animal carcasses have been found."

According to a local agriculture official in Brujerd more than a thousand sheep, cows and goats have been killed in the quake in his area.

Around 500 people from villages under the city of Brujerd's jurisdiction protested in front of the city's governor office, demanding blankets, tents and food, state news agency IRNA reported.

Zolqadr also said that 15,000 homes were affected in the area and they have planed to furnish all of them with tents.

The quake struck at 4:47 am (0117 GMT) following two others measuring 4.7 and 5.1, Iranian television quoted the National Seismological Institute as saying.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Iranian Red Crescent has sent 100 rescue teams, or a total of around 300 people, to the affected areas.

Interior ministry public relations director Mojtaba Mir-Abdollahi told AFP hours after the quake that survivors were in urgent need of food, blankets and medical supplies, but he added that there was "no need" for international aid.

Despite acute tension over Tehran's nuclear program and neighboring Iraq, US President George W. Bush made a point of offering sympathy and assistance.

"We obviously have differences with the Iranian government but we do care about the suffering of Iranian people," he said while at a North American summit in Mexico.

Iran sits astride several major faults in the earth's crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of them devastating.

The worst quake in recent times hit Bam in the south of the country in December 2003, killing 31,000 people, about a quarter of the city's population, and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel.