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April 10 2013 4 10 /04 /April /2013 07:48

30 die in quake near Iran's nuclear plant

An Iranian woman reacts as she sits among the rubble of buildings after an earthquake struck southern Iran, in Shonbeh, Iran on Tuesday.

TEHRAN: At least 30 people have been killed and 800 injured in a powerful earthquake that struck close to Iran's only nuclear power plant.


Shocks from the quake that hit near the southern port city of Bushehr were felt across the Gulf in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, provoking panic and the brief evacuation of some office towers, residents and media said.


Bushehr provincial Governor Fereydoon Hasanvand told state television at least 30 people were killed while more than 800 people were hurt and and receiving medical attention.


He said "no damage at all has been caused" to the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, nearly 90 kilometres northwest of the quake's epicentre.

The plant's chief engineer, Mahmoud Jafari, told Arabic-language Al-Alam television that "no operational or security protocols were breached" by the quake.


The 6.1 magnitude quake hit at 4.22pm (9.52pm AEST) with a depth of 12 kilometres, in the area of Kaki, according to the Iranian Seismological Centre which has registered more than a dozen aftershocks.


The US Geological Survey ranked the quake at a more powerful 6.3 magnitude.


There were no immediate details on where the casualties occurred, but the head of Iran's Red Crescent rescue corps, Mahmoud Mozafar, said it appeared at least one village near Khormoj had been razed.


Search and rescue teams accompanied by security forces were sent to the area, along with tents, blankets and food, media reported.


In Dubai, hundreds of kilometres away and home to the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, local media reported that several high-rise buildings were briefly evacuated after the quake.


"Chandeliers were shaking," one resident tweeted.


Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes.


A double earthquake struck northwest Iran last August, killing more than 300 people.


In December 2010, a big quake struck the southern city of Bam, killing 31,000.


The long-delayed Bushehr nuclear power plant is yet to come into full operation.


Iran is at loggerheads with world powers over its development of a controversial nuclear program, which the Western and Israel suspect is aimed at military objectives despite Tehran's denials.

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