At least five people were killed and dozens more injured in a shallow magnitude 6 earthquake that shook southern Iran early Saturday, according to an initial report by the state news agency Irna.
According to state television, 49 people were injured in three successive earthquakes that shook the southern province of Hormozgan, including the worst-hit village of Sayeh Khosh.
The first earthquake occurred at about 02:00 local time (21:30 GMT) with a magnitude of 6 at a depth of 16 km, according to the US Seismological Institute (USGS).
It was followed by two other aftershocks, two hours later, with a magnitude of 5.7 and 6, at a depth of 10 km.
According to television footage, several residential buildings collapsed in Sayeh Khosh and the town was plunged into darkness following a power failure.
In Bandar Abbas, the capital of the province where half a million people live, people spent the night on the streets after the earthquake and long queues formed outside petrol stations, according to state television.
Electricity was also cut off in nearly 30 villages in the affected areas, the same source said.
Search and rescue operations are almost complete, the country’s Red Crescent said, quoted by the television.
“We are concentrating on receiving the victims of the earthquake,” provincial governor Mehdi Dousti said on television, adding that 50% of the village of Sayeh Khosh had been destroyed.
Located on the edge of several tectonic plates, Iran is a zone of high seismic activity.
In 2003, an earthquake of magnitude 6.6 partially destroyed the city of Bam (south-east) and killed at least 31,000 people
But Iran’s deadliest earthquake was a magnitude 7.4 in 1990, killing 40,000 people in the north of the country.