Iran quake kills at least one, sparks panic in capital

Tehran (AFP) –


An earthquake near Iran's highest mountain killed at least one person and jolted the capital Tehran early Friday, forcing panicked residents to flee buildings.

The shallow 4.6 magnitude quake hit at 00:48 am (2018 GMT) near the city of Damavand, about 55 kilometres (34 miles) east of Tehran, the US Geological Survey said.

It saw scores of residents of the capital exit buildings for the safety of streets and parks, AFP journalists reported.

Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Twitter that the tremor claimed the life of one person and injured seven others.

He called on people to "keep calm" and to follow safety guidelines.

The USGS said on its website that the quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometres. Its epicentre was south of Mount Damavand, a volcanic mountain which at 5,671 metres (18,606 feet) is Iran's highest peak.

Iran sits on top of major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity.

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake that rattled the western village of Habash-e Olya on February 23 killed at least nine people over the border in neighbouring Turkey.

In November 2017, a 7.3-magnitude quake in Iran's western province of Kermanshah killed 620 people.

In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeastern Iran decimated the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.

Iran's deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in northern Iran, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.

In December and January, two earthquakes struck near Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Iran's Gulf Arab neighbours have raised concerns about the reliability of the country's sole nuclear power facility, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, and the risk of radioactive leaks in case of a major earthquake.