Strong Earthquake Hits Southern Iran, 6 Killed

TEHRAN, Iran -- A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck southeastern Iran late Monday, killing at least six people and injuring 21 others, Iranian state TV reported.

The report said the strong quake hit Hosseinabad, a small town of a few hundred residents in a sparsely populated region of southeastern Iran, at 22:12 local time (18:42 GMT).

The area is not far from the historical city of Bam, site of a devastating 2003 earthquake of similar strength that killed more than 26,000 people.

Telephone contacts to the stricken area have been cut off, and rescue teams were dispatched to the area, the TV reported.

The report said the epicenter was at a depth of 3 miles (5 kilometers), about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Bam.

A senior government official, Javad Kamali, was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Tuesday that the quake also caused serious damage to buildings and the infrastructure of region.

Kamali said relief teams have been dispatched to the stricken areas.

"There are efforts under way to reopen some hard-to-reach roads blocked by the quake," he said.

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

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. It experiences at least one slight earthquake every day on average.