Quake in southern Iran kills 37, injures 850

AFP, TEHRAN

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - Page 7

Rescuers yesterday wound up operations after pulling 20 people from the rubble of an earthquake that struck near the port city of Bushehr, killing 37 people, but sparing Iran’s sole nuclear power plant.

“With the rescue operation being wrapped up no one is left under the rubble,” the Fars news agency quoted the head of Iran’s Red Crescent rescue corps, Mahmoud Mozafar, as saying.

According to latest media reports, 37 people were killed and 850 others injured in the magnitude 6.1 quake that struck on Tuesday.

At least 20 people were rescued from the rubble, according to Fars, which added that about 700 homes had been destroyed.

Mozafar said efforts were now focused on relief operations and about 1,000 tents had been set up in quake-hit areas.

Fars said blankets and food have also been sent to stricken areas.

Iran said it had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that there has been no damage to the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, nearly 90km northwest of quake’s epicenter, and no radioactive release.

Iran’s atomic chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani said that the power plant was not operational when the quake struck as it was “ under maintenance,” Iranian media reported.

The facility’s chief engineer, Mahmoud Jafari, told Arabic-language al-Alam television that “no operational or security protocols were breached” by the quake.

The nuclear power plant in Bushehr, a long-delayed project finished by Russia, is yet to become fully operational.

Tuesday’s quake coincided with Iran unveiling a uranium production facility and two extraction mines in center of the country.

The quake hit at 4:22pm on Tuesday at a depth of 12km, in the area of Kaki, according to the Iranian Seismological Center, which has registered more than a dozen after shocks, the strongest at magnitude 5.3.

The US Geological Survey, which monitors quakes worldwide, ranked the quake at a more powerful magnitude 6.3.

In Dubai, hundreds of kilometers down the Gulf from Bushehr and home to the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, local media reported that several high-rise buildings were briefly evacuated.