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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 02:24 GMT
Ten dead in southern Iran quake
Injured boy on Qeshm island. From Iranian TV
Qeshm island suffered the worst damage and most injuries
A powerful earthquake has hit southern Iran, killing at least 10 people, injuring dozens more and damaging several villages, officials say.

The 6.1-magnitude quake struck Qeshm island, home to 120,000 people, and the city of Bandar Abbas, state media said.

On Qeshm island, between half and two-thirds of homes in five villages had been damaged, officials said.

The quake, which struck at 1353 (1023 GMT), was felt in the neighbouring Gulf states of Oman and the UAE.

Iran sits in a volatile earthquake region and is regularly struck by damaging quakes.

A 6.7-strength quake killed more than 26,000 people in the ancient city of Bam in December 2003.

'We panicked'

The US Geological Survey put the epicentre of Sunday's quake at about 58km (36 miles) south-west of Bandar Abbas.

The earthquake was really strong and people poured into the streets in panic
Sara Sadeqi, Qeshm resident

Heydar Alishbandi, Governor of Qeshm island, said five villages had been badly hit, but the worst-affected areas appeared to be in the less-populated west.

Helicopters ferried the injured to hospital but the authorities say the rescue effort is now winding down.

Mr Alishbandi told the AFP news agency he was not expecting the death toll to rise.

The BBC's Frances Harrison in Tehran says in one incident a number of children suffered broken legs as they rushed to evacuate their school.

The initial tremor lasted just over 10 seconds, she says, and there have been at least four aftershocks of around 4.0.

Qeshm is a popular tourist destination in the mouth of the Persian gulf. It has a free trade zone and a commercial and fishing port as well as a sanctuary for the conservation of turtles

The main town on Qeshm still has power, water and electricity connections and officials say they are sending relief goods such as tents to those who have lost their homes

"We were panicked. I saw an injured person with blood on their clothes being taken to a local hospital," one woman in Qeshm told AFP.

There were reports of people fleeing buildings in the larger city of Bandar Abbas, a major port, but no indications of serious damage.

The surrounding area has not been hit by a quake in more than 25 years.

A 6.4-magnitude quake hit the town of Zarand in Iran's Kerman province in February, killing hundreds of people.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear more about the villages thought to have been hit




SEE ALSO:
Quake experts urge Tehran move
14 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Eyewitness: Iran earthquake
23 Feb 05 |  Middle East
Deadly history of earthquakes
08 Oct 05 |  In Depth
Survivors recall Iran quake loss
25 Dec 04 |  Middle East
Iran lowers Bam earthquake toll
29 Mar 04 |  Middle East
Bam: Jewel of Iranian heritage
27 Dec 03 |  Middle East


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