Iran has been struck by the strongest earthquake the country has seen in nearly four decades, with tremors and aftershocks being felt across Pakistan, India and the Middle East.
The 7.3 magnitude quake is believed to have originated near the south-east city of Khash, close to the Pakistani border, according to the US Geological Survey. But reports say shocks were felt across much of South Asia. The BBC reports that offices were evacuated in Abu Dhabi, while there were reports of office buildings being evacuated in Delhi. The Iranian state TV has reported that at least 40 people were killed in the calamity.
The earthquake struck in the province of Sistan Baluchistan at about 15:14 local time (16:15 IST) close to the cities of Khash, with a population of nearly 180,000, and Saravan, with 250,000. Iran's Fars news agency reports that Saravan had suffered no serious damage.
The epicentre pointed out on Google Maps
One official was quoted by Reuters as saying he feared hundreds had died, however Press TV, an Iranian channel, put the death toll at 40 in the country with many hundreds affected by the calamity. Over in Pakistan’s Kharan district, the death toll is estimated to be 7, with al-Jazeera tweeting, “widespread damage reported in Mach Khel, Balochistan after earthquake.”
You can follow the developments and contribute to the flow of information by following the hashtag #earthquake on Twitter.
In addition, The US Geological Survey (USGS) also has a public alert system set up which warns citizens in both countries and in nearby regions of the potential aftershock possibilities. It also advises victims and affected families on the dos and don’ts in an earthquake situation. The USGS also has a live earthquake map which shows where earthquakes have hit around the world and will update as and when further tremors or after-shocks of the Iranian earthquake are felt in the region.
The latest earthquake in Iran comes just days after another one in Bushehr, where a nuclear power station is located. The 6.3-magnitude quake in the south west of Iran on April 10 killed at least 37 people, with more than 850 wounded. Victims of that earthquake have only just started receiving aid from organisations around the world.
The USGS map which indicates the affected zones
Currently, Turkish aid organisations have informed their Iranian counterparts that Turkey was ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the Iranian earthquake. World Bulletin reports that Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent Aid Society (Kizilay) have announced their readiness to dispatch relief teams if Iran calls on the help of the international community.
We will be updating this story as and when we receive more information regarding the tragic situation in the region.