Five people were killed and 120 more were injured as a powerful earthquake struck northwestern Iran on Friday, November 8th, AFP reported, citing reports on State TV.
The Iranian Seismological Center said the magnitude 5.9 quake struck about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southeast of the city of Tabriz, in East Azerbaijan Province, in the early hours of the morning. The shallow quake, described as "moderate", was eight kilometres (five miles) deep and was followed by five aftershocks, according to AFP.
The earthquake destroyed at least 30 houses, provincial governor, Mohammad-Reza Pourmohammadi, told local media. Rescuers have been dispatched to 41 rural villages, but the damage was largely concentrated in two areas. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) warned that "significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread."
Iran sits geologically on top of where two major tectonic plates meet and has experienced several seismic activities. The country has suffered a number of major disasters in recent decades. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the ancient city of Bam, killing at least 31,000 people and in 1990 a magnitude 7.4 quake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.
In recent years, Iran has experienced at least two other significant quakes, one in 2005 that killed more than 600 people and another in 2012 that left 300 dead.