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Earthquake shakes eastern Iran; 2 injured, minor damage in rural area

A moderate earthquake shook eastern Iran Wednesday injuring two people and causing damage to rural buildings, Iranian TV reported.

State TV said the 5.5-magnitude quake hit South Khorasan province in eastern Iran near the border with Afghanistan at 20:38 local time (17:08 GMT) Wednesday.

The broadcast said only two people were injured, and several rural houses were damaged.

The semiofficial Fars news agency said the quake caused panic and prompted residents in the provincial capital, Birjand, to flee their homes. No other details were immediately available.

Even moderate quakes have killed thousands of people in the past in the Iranian countryside, where houses are often built of mud bricks.

Some 26,000 people were killed by a 6.6-magnitude quake that flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam in the same region in 2003.