TEHRAN, Iran – A powerful magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck northeastern Iran near the holy city of Mashhad on Wednesday, killing at least two people as residents fled onto the streets and aftershocks shook the region.
The shallow temblor damaged at least four villages near its epicenter in the Sefid Sang district, a remote mountainous area home to 5,000 people, located about 80 kilometres (50 miles) southeast of Mashhad, state TV’s English-language Press TV channel reported. It said rescue teams and helicopters had deployed in Iran’s Khorasan Razavi province to the area to assess the damage.
Semi-official Iranian news agencies posted videos online of panicked people in the streets, items falling off store shelves and photos of damaged buildings.
Press TV said at least two people were killed. The semi-official ISNA news agency said 11 people were injured. Mobile phone service and landline telephone lines were disrupted by the quake.
State media described the depth of the quake as only 10 kilometres (6.2 miles). Either a shallow earthquakes and or a magnitude 6 temblor on its own can cause serious damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey also described the temblor as a 6.1, saying it had a depth of only 13 kilometres (8 miles).
Iran sits on a series of seismic fault lines and experiences one slight quake a day on average. In 2003, some 26,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 quake that flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam.