At least five people were killed and more than 80 injured on Saturday after a series of strong earthquakes hit southern Iran.
In total, 49 people were injured after three successive shallow earthquakes (between 10 and 16 km deep), which shook the province of Hormozgan (south of the country), in particular the village of Sayeh Khosh, which was most affected, underlines the state television.
The first earthquake occurred around 0200 hours (2130 GMT), with a magnitude of 6 at a depth of 16 km, according to the United States Seismological Institute (USGS).
Two other aftershocks followed two hours later, with magnitudes of 5.7 and 6, respectively, at a depth of 10 km, according to the same source.
Iranian First Vice President Mohamad Mokhber called on local leaders to “mobilize all available means in the province to help the victims,” state television said.
In television images several residential buildings could be seen collapsed in Sayeh Khosh. The city was plunged into darkness due to a power outage.
In Bandar Abbas, a port city and capital of the province where half a million inhabitants live, people spent the night on the street after the earthquake and long queues formed in front of gas stations, public television reported.
There was also a blackout in nearly 30 villages in the affected areas, the same source added.
Ambulances and other vehicles tried to navigate debris-strewn roads as shocked residents took to the streets or tried to retrieve items from their quake-ravaged homes.
Search and rescue operations for survivors are nearly complete, the country’s Red Crescent said, quoted by local TV.
“We are focused on welcoming the victims of the earthquake,” the governor of Bandar Abbas province, Mehdi Dousti, said on television. He also stated that half of the Sayeh Khosh village was destroyed.
Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi visited Hormozgan province and told state television that restoring water and electricity was one of the government’s top priorities.
The earthquake occurred in a place located 100 kilometers southwest of the port of Bandar Abbas, according to the United States Seismological Institute (USGS).
One person had already died in November 2021 in this province, hit by two earthquakes of magnitudes 6.4 and 6.3.
Iran is located in an area of high seismic activity, located along several tectonic plates.
In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake partially destroyed the city of Bam (southeast) and claimed at least 31,000 lives.
But the deadliest earthquake in Iran was a magnitude 7.4 earthquake in 1990, which caused 40,000 victims in the north of the country.
Iran’s Arab neighbors in the Gulf have expressed concern about the reliability of the country’s only nuclear facility, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, and the risk of radioactive leaks in the event of a major earthquake.