Iran Earthquake Hits Thursday, At Least 7 Killed

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A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck Iran on Thursday, at about 5:21 pm local time, killing at least seven as of the most recent reporting. The epicenter was approximately 40 miles northeast of the city of Bushehr, which is the location of the country's single nuclear power plant.

The death toll was reported by the state news agency, IRNA. IANS and Fars news agencies quote it at eight dead. IANS puts the injured at 45. The agencies also report slightly different magnitudes, by a tenth of a point; 5.6 was reported by the U.S. Geological Survey.

IRNA reported that there was, "total calm," in the area, quoting the governor of Bushehr, Fereidoun Hasanvand. The governor also says that relief teams are traveling to damaged areas. Fars news agency says that helicopters will fly out on Friday to assess the impact.

State television announces that the nuclear plant, which went online in 2011, is undamaged. People fled their houses, afraid they would crash in on their residents. A spokesman for the Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization including the Red Cross, witnessed some residential damage as many homes in the area were not earthquake-proof.

The area is no stranger to seismic activity. An April quake killed at least 37 people and ranked a 6.1 on the Richter scale, that in a town near Bushehr. The nuclear plant sustained no damage.

Iran itself is a hotbed of activity, located where the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet resulting in fault lines covering large swaths of the country. In the last decades, nine quakes in Iran reached over a 6.0 magnitude, one of the most destructive in 2003 killing at least 26,000 people in the city of Bam. Iran is estimated to experience one minor quake per day.

Iran and six world powers, the U.S. included, are embarking on an agreement to curb the country's nuclear ambitions as of a Sunday announcement. Iran has steadfastly maintained that any nuclear capabilities are peaceful in intent, but that is contradicted by long term skepticism.

[Image via CIA World Factbook.]

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