Source AP ©

Strong earthquake rocks southern Iran

A strong earthquake rocked southern Iran on Wednesday, sending tremors across the Persian Gulf and shaking the skyscrapers of Dubai. Iranian state television reported that four persons were killed and 26 others were injured.

The country's seismological center said a magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:30 p.m. (11:00 GMT), with the epicenter about 850 miles (1,350 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, in the region of Bandar Abbas.

Bandar Abbas is also one of Iran's main ports and home to a large oil refinery that primarily serves the domestic market. The city's residents, reached by telephone, said the quake caused panic and prompted many to run to the parks.

The TV gave no details about the initial casualties. The report said the quake also caused a power outage and minor damages on the Qeshm island in the Persian Gulf.

The broadcaster quoted an unidentified official at the seismological center as saying that 10 aftershocks were registered following the quake, each of magnitude 4.7 or less. Iranian state media often cite officials without giving their names.

Abdolkarim Setareh, a local official in the epicenter town of Bandar-e-Khamir said extensive damages were unlikely.

"Houses in this region have been built in recent years and are resistant to earthquakes. Only minor damages have been reported from a dozen villages so far," he told The Associated Press over the phone.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake's strength at magnitude 6.1.

Across the Persian Gulf waters, residents in Dubai and neighboring emirates reported feeling shaking that lasted less than a minute.

The tremors sent office workers rushing out of some of the high-rise towers that dot the skyline in the city-state's commercial center.

Dubai Civil Defense official said they received several calls from panicked residents, saying their beds were shaking and their furniture was collapsing.

"My bed was hitting against the wall," said Rheanne Anderson, a Canadian teacher living in the nearby emirate of Ras al-Khaimah. "There was definitely some shaking."

There were no reports of damage or casualties in the Emirates.

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one slight earthquake every day on average.

In February 2005, a magnitude 6.4 quake rocked the town of Zarand in southern Iran, killing 612 people and injuring more than 1,400.

A magnitude 6.6 quake flattened the historic city of Bam in the same region in December 2003, killing 26,000 people.

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