'Devastating' earthquake strikes near Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant
A magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck about 60 miles southeast of the Iranian coastal city of Bushehr, where the country's only nuclear power station is located, the U.S. Geological Survey reported Tuesday.
Initial reports suggested the nuclear plant has not been affected, but the southern province where the quake struck is vast and remote and details were not immediately clear.
The quake was felt in Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain on the other side of the Persian Gulf, according to The Weather Channel.
Three people were killed, said Reuters, citing Iranian state television. Government news agency IRNA described the quake as "devastating" but said it did not have information on casualties or damage.
Twitter users in Bahrain and Qatar said buildings there had been evacuated.
The Iranian Seismological Centre at the University of Tehran reported a quake of 6.1 magnitude whose epicentre was Kaki, an inland town around 60 miles southeast of Bushehr, Reuters reported.
In a preliminary report, the USGS said the quake was magnitude 6.3 and struck at 6:52 a.m. ET at a depth of just under 8 miles.
Iran insists its nuclear plant at Bushehr is for civilian purposes, but there is international concern that its regime may be building nuclear weapons.
The nuclear plant's operations were unaffected, an official with the Russian company that built the facility told Iran's RIA news agency, according to Reuters. "The earthquake in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor, personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm,'' RIA quoted an official at Atomstroy as saying.
On its website, the USGS estimated that only about 3,000 people were exposed to the most violent shaking from the quake, and another 80,000 live in areas that would have experienced strong tremors. In the region’s largest city, Shiraz, home to about 1.5 million people, the earthquake would have been felt as light shaking.