6 Dec 2012

Earthquake strikes eastern Iran

9:38 am on 6 December 2012

An earthquake has struck eastern Iran, causing buildings to collapse and killing five people.

Iran's Fars news agency said people ran out of their houses after the quake struck the district of Zahan, causing walls and buildings to collapse and leaving people trapped under rubble.

Villages were hardest hit and emergency workers had reached some of them, an emergency official told the agency.

Fars said the earthquake measured 5.6 in strength and struck at 8.38pm.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was at a shallow depth of 5.4 kilometres.

It located the epicentre as 79 kilometres north-northeast of Birjand, near the border with Afghanistan.

Iran is situated on major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 quake in 2003 which flattened the southeastern city of Bam and killed more than 25,000 people, Reuters reports.

In August more than 300 people were killed when two quakes struck northwestern Iran.