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Iran earthquake hits close to Bushehr nuclear plant, kills 37: Official

The quake struck 55 miles from Bushehr, the country's first and only nuclear power station.

Bushehr nuclear reactorEnlarge
A picture shows the inside of the reactor at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake shook southwest Iran on Tuesday, sending tremors across the region, killing scores and wounding hundreds, according to the latest reports.

Earlier reports said that at least three had died as a result of the quake, attributing the figure to Iranian state television. But the number of casualties grew as the day went on. An Iranian regional governor said late Tuesday that at least 37 people had been killed in the quake, according to AP, while CNN earlier cited state TV as saying as many as 800 were left injured.

The BBC said Red Crescent workers were being sent to the hard-hit area around the earthquake's epicenter.

The quake originated about six miles underground, and struck 55 miles from the Bushehr nuclear power plant — the country's only nuclear power station. The facility is reported to be unaffected by the quake and operating as normal.

"Iran has informed [the International Atomic Energy Agency's Incident and Emergency Center] of the event, reporting that there has been no damage to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and no radioactive release from the installation," according to an agency statement cited by Reuters. The nuclear watchdog said it is not pursuing the matter. 

Tremors were felt as far as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, across the Gulf. In Qatar, skyscrapers were reportedly evacuated as a precaution.

The BBC reported five aftershocks taking place in the hour after the quake.

There are four major tectonic plates that meet in the region, making seismological activity in Iran common.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/130409/iran-earthquake-hits-close-bushehr-nuclear-plant