Iran Ends Rescue Efforts After Bushehr Quake Kills 37

Iran ended rescue efforts in Bushehr province, home to a nuclear plant, following a 6.1 earthquake yesterday that killed 37 people, state media said.

More than 950 people were injured when the quake hit the town of Kaki, 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the plant, and about 800 houses were destroyed or damaged, state television reported today. Iran announced three days of mourning in the southern province on the Persian Gulf.

“There is no one else left under the rubble,” said Mahmoud Mozafar, head of relief and rescue at Iran’s Red Crescent Society, according to the Fars news agency. “Relief operations in other areas are ongoing.”

The government has set up tents for about 1,000 people and is distributing food, Mozafar said. Power and phone services have been restored, Mohammad-Hassan Nami, the communication and information technology minister, was cited as saying by state television on its website.

The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant -- the country’s only operational facility -- is safe, Iranian officials said yesterday. The facility can withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake, state-run Ria Novosti news service said yesterday, citing an unidentified official in a company that helped design the plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said late yesterday that it was informed by Iran that there was no damage to the plant or subsequent radioactive release. The agency said that based on analysis from its own safety center as well as the Iranian statement, it’s not asking Iran for further information.

According to the Iranian Seismological Center, the quake hit at 4:22 p.m. local time and was followed by at least four aftershocks. The region was again struck by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake early today, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Iran sits on several fault lines and is frequently hit by earthquakes. An estimated 40,000 people were killed in 2003 when a temblor flattened the city of Bam in the southern province of Kerman. In August, two quakes struck near the north-western city of Tabriz killing over 200 people.

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