At least 3 killed, 20 injured in shallow Iran quake

USGS map

At least five people have been killed and 120 others injured after a 5.8-magnitude natural disaster struck northwestern Iran, Iranian state-owned Press TV reported.

The 5.9-magnitude quake struck about 120km southeast of the city of Tabriz, in East Azerbaijan Province, in the early hours of the morning, the Iranian Seismological Centre said.

It struck near the town of Tark, some 400km (250 miles) north-west of the capital Tehran, at 02:17 local time (22:47 GMT).

Hundreds of people reported feeling the quake, including some reports as far north as Santa Barbara.

Numerous injuries occurred in the panicked aftermath of the quake as people fled their homes, it is believed. "Unfortunately six people were killed and 345 injured", Iran's emergency medical services chief, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Iran is prone to earthquakes as it sits on major fault lines and experiences an average of one temblor a day.

There are initial reports that three small villages in the area were destroyed in the quake, semi-official FARS news reported.

Earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher generally can cause substantial damage. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

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