At least 5 killed as 5.9-magnitude quake rattles Iran
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At least 5 killed as 5.9-magnitude quake rattles Iran

Over 300 injured in temblor outside of Tabriz in northwest, many while fleeing their homes in the middle of the night

Ruins of a houses are seen after an earthquake in the city of Varzaqan in northwestern Iran, on Saturday. (photo credit: AP/Mehr News Agency, Hamed Nazari)
Illustrative: Ruins of a houses are seen after an earthquake in the city of Varzaqan in northwestern Iran in 2012. (photo credit: AP/Mehr News Agency, Hamed Nazari)

TEHRAN, Iran — A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck northwestern Iran early Friday, killing at least five people and injuring over 300 others, officials said.

The temblor struck Tark county in Iran’s Eastern Azerbaijan province at 2:17 a.m., Iran’s seismological center said. The area is some 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of Iran’s capital, Tehran.

Over 40 aftershocks rattled the rural region nestled in the Alborz Mountains, and residents rushed out of their homes in fear. The quake injured at least 312 people, state television reported, though only 13 needed to be hospitalized. It described many of the injuries happening when people fled in panic.

The head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, gave the casualty figures to state television. There were no immediate video or images broadcast from the area.

Rescuers have been dispatched to the region, officials said. State TV reported the earthquake destroyed 30 homes at its epicenter.

A rescue worker searches the debris with his sniffing dog on the earthquake site in Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Tuesday, November 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The US Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

It issued an alert warning that “significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.”

Iran is on major seismic faults and experiences one earthquake a day on average. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

A magnitude 7 earthquake that struck western Iran in 2017 killed more than 600 people and injured more than 9,000.

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