Middle East

Iran: Dozens of aftershocks follow deadly earthquake

More than 80 aftershocks have hit south-west Iran following Tuesday's 6.1 magnitude earthquake, which killed at least 37 people and injured 850.

Twelve villages were completely destroyed and terrified residents spent the night in the open, reports say.

Iran's Red Crescent says the search and rescue operation is now over and affected families are being relocated.

Iran's only nuclear station located in Bushehr, 90km (55 miles) from the scene, was not damaged, officials say.

Scores of aftershocks - the strongest measuring a magnitude of 5.4 - struck within an hour, and they continued into Wednesday morning.

Bushehr's governor Fereydun Hasanvand told Iranian television that of those wounded, 750 had "minor injuries" and the rest had been sent to provincial hospitals.

Some 10,000 people are thought to live in the affected area. Mr Hasanvand said 700 houses have been damaged and 200 families affected.

The BBC's Mohsen Asgari in Tehran says these are small villages, poorly built with hand-made bricks and clay but where villagers know each other well.

Roads leading to the affected area are open, electricity and telephone lines are being brought back online, and food and water are being distributed, our correspondent says.

'Operating as normal'

The quake was felt across the Gulf in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Seismologists said the quake struck at 16:22 (11:52 GMT) at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles) near the town of Kaki, south of Bushehr - a Gulf port city that is home to Iran's first and only nuclear power plant.

Bushehr official Mahmud Ja'fari told Iranian state TV that the power plant was designed to withstand 8.0-magnitude earthquakes, and that "the plant is operating as usual".

Iran's nuclear programme has roused concern among major powers that Tehran wants to build nuclear weapons - a charge Iran strongly denies.

Iran straddles a major geological fault line, making it prone to seismic activity. In 2003, an earthquake in the city of Bam left more than 25,000 people dead.