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Earthquake reported to kill dozens in southern Iran

April 09, 2013|By Ramin Mostaghim

TEHRAN -- A powerful earthquake shook southern Iran on Tuesday afternoon, killing dozens of people and devastating entire towns, Iranian media reported.

At least 31 people died in the quake, including three victims under a collapsed house in the small town of Shanbe, according to Fars News Agency and the Tabnak news website. State media reported at least 20 were killed. Earlier news reports had put the death toll at three or four people.

The U.S. Geological Survey said Tuesday's earthquake measured magnitude 6.3; Iranian state media reported that it measured 6.1.

There were no immediate reports of damage at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, about 60 miles from the reported epicenter of the earthquake. The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted a plant executive saying the earthquake had caused no problems at the facility.

Officials with Iran's Red Crescent Society said that the small town of Shanbe, where farmers earn a living by growing watermelons, tomatoes and tobacco, was one of two towns “completely destroyed” in the quake, according to IRNA. As many as 500 people were estimated to have been injured in the stricken areas. 

Phone connections to Shanbe were broken after the quake, Reza Shabankara, a journalist who lives in the nearby area of Borazjan, told the Los Angeles Times. Ten aftershocks jolted the area in the after the temblor, Shabankara said.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Iran. A decade ago, the southeastern city of Bam was struck by a bigger quake that left more than 26,000 people dead. It measured magnitude 6.6.

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Emily Alpert in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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