A powerful earthquake in southeastern Iran has killed dozens of people across the border in Pakistan. The quake was felt as far away as the Gulf and India.
At least 34 people were killed and around 80 injured, a Pakistani military official reported Tuesday, after the earthquake struck neighboring Iran. Speaking on a condition of anonymity, in line with Pakistan military policy, the official said the victims were from a remote village in the southwest of the country, where up to 1,000 mud-built buildings were damaged.
"The bodies are at the hospital and injured are being treated by army doctors. Paramilitary forces are busy in rescue work," the official told news agency AFP.
The Maskhail area lies just a few kilometers from the Iranian border where, despite initial mixed reports, no casualties have been confirmed. Iran's state-run Press TV initially reported that at least 40 people had been killed, although that figure was later withdrawn.
Iran's official news agency, IRNA, quoted a local governor saying at least 27 people were injured, however, adding that crisis management authorities had declared a state of emergency in the quake-hit area.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), Tuesday's earthquake measured a magnitude of 7.8 and struck at 3:14 pm Iranian time (1044 UTC). It said its epicentre hit 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the Iranian city of Khash, in the province of Sistan Baluchistan at a depth of 82 kilometres.
Iran's Seismological Centre measured it as 7.5 and gave the depth as 95 kilometres.
Despite conflicting reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was able to confirm that no damage had been down to Iran's main nuclear reactor in the region. It was the second time in a week IAEA officials had to issue such a report after another earthquake struck the Gulf port city of Bushehr last Tuesday.
The 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least 37 people, but left the Bushehr plant unharmed.
Iran's sits along several major fault lines and has experienced frequent devastating earthquakes. More than 26,000 people, roughly a quarter of the country's population, were killed in 2003 when an earthquake destroyed the ancient southeastern city of Bam.
ccp/jm (AFP, Reuters)