Iranian state media report that a powerful earthquake has struck southwest Iran, killing at least 37 people and injuring 850, but that the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the region has emerged unscathed.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.3 quake struck 89 kilometers southeast of the port city of Bushehr, not far from the country's only nuclear power station.
Iran's seismological center in Bushehr Province registered the quake at a magnitude of 6.1.
Bushehr Province Governor Fereydoun Hassanvand told state television that the Bushehr nuclear plant has not been affected.
An official with Atomstroyexport, the Russian company that built the nuclear power station, was quoted as saying the quake "in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor."
And the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency announced in a statement that it has been informed by Tehran that the has been “no damage” to the plant and “no radioactive release” from the facility.
About 10,000 people are thought to be living in villages in the affected area.
Many houses in the province are made of mud bricks, which can easily crumble in a quake.
Tens of aftershocks struck within an hour, sending many people into the streets for safety.
Ebrahim Darvishi, governor of the worst-hit district Shonbeh, said water and electricity were cut to many residents.
Shahpour Rostami, the deputy governor of Bushehr province, told state TV that rescue teams have been deployed to Shonbeh.
Iran announced a three-day mourning period in the country.
The quake was felt across the Gulf in Bahrain, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.
Iran is located on seismic faults, making it prone to frequent earthquakes. In August 2012, two earthquakes killed more than 300 people in northwest Iran. Some 25,000 people were killed by a quake that flattened the southeastern city of Bam in 2003.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP