Earthquake Jolts Southern Iran

An earthquake of magnitude 5.9 jolted southern Iran on Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The temblor struck at 11:01 local time and was centered in an area about 600 miles southeast of the capital Tehran, the USGS said on its Web site. Theepicenter was about 80 miles from the nearest sizable city — Bandar-e Abbas, on Iran's coast.

The earthquake was classified as moderate, but such quakes have killed thousands of people in the past in the Iranian countryside where houses are often built of bricks. The head of the Tehran Seismology Center, Mahdi Rezapour, put the magnitude at 5.8.

State television said it was felt in the southern towns of Orzoueih, Kerman, Jiroft, Kahnooj and Baft. The governor of Baft province told state radio the quake caused walls to crack in villages.

"No deaths have yet been reported, but the quake has caused cracks in many buildings. The region hit by the quake is where the houses are made of mud brick," said the governor, identified only as Amini.

In February 2005, a 6.4-magnitude temblor rocked the town of Zarand in southern Iran, killing 612 people and injuring more than 1,400. A magnitude-6.6 quake flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam in the same region in December 2003, killing 26,000 people.