International

Strong Quake Hits Southern Iran, Killing Or Injuring Dozens

UPDATE at 3:40 p.m. ET: Death Toll Rises

Bushehr provincial governor Fereidoun Hasanvand tells state TV that the death toll has reached 37 people, with 850 injured, including 100 who were hospitalized.

We updated this post with new information at 12:15 p.m. ET

A strong earthquake in a sparsely populated area of southern Iran has killed at least 30 people and injured 800, according to Iran's state media.

The epicenter of the quake, which measured 6.3 according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was about 55 miles southeast of the city of Bushehr, which is the site of a major nuclear power plant. Iranian sources put the strength at 6.1 magnitude.

"Up until now, the earthquake has left behind 30 dead and 800 injured," said Fereydoun Hassanvand, the governor of Bushehr province, according to the Iranian Students' New Agency, or ISNA.

RIA quoted a statement by the Russian company that built the Bushehr power plant as saying it was operating normally.

"The earthquake in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor. Personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm," an official at Atomstroyexport was quoted as saying.

But the deputy governor of Bushehr province told Iran's state TV that rescue teams had been dispatched to Shomneh, "the most damaged district in the region."

A resident in Kaki, the town closest to the epicenter told the Associated Press that people had run out into the streets in fear and the quake was felt as far away as Dubai, in the UAE and Manama, the capital of Bahrain.

"We could clearly feel the earthquake," one Bushehr resident told Reuters by phone. "The windows and chandeliers all shook."

The BBC reports:

"... phone lines had been brought down by the quake and its aftershocks.

Iran's Red Crescent organization said there were around 10,000 people living in villages in the affected area, and rescue teams had been deployed to help them.

Mahmoud Mozaffar, the head of Iran's Red Crescent, told state television that two villages had been '80% damaged' by the quake."

At least six aftershocks have been reported so far, the strongest one measuring 5.3 magnitude.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the temblor's epicenter was located 55 miles southeast of Iran's coastal city of Bushehr and occurred at a depth of about 6 miles. An apparent aftershock occurred minutes later and measured 5.4. Bushehr is the location of a nuclear power plant.

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