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Hundreds Feared Dead as 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Iran

Early reports lack details as enormous tremor shakes ground from Himalayas to Persian Gulf

- Jon Queally, staff writer

An enormous earthquake on Tuesday was felt from the Himalayan foothills to the Persian Gulf. With the epicenter in Iran and details of the 7.8 magnitude quake only just emerging, fears that hundreds may have been killed is being reported by Reuters.

An image released by the US Geological Survey shows the location of the earthquake in Iran. (Photograph: EPA) "It was the biggest earthquake in Iran in 40 years and we are expecting hundreds of dead," said one Iranian official, who spoke to the news agency on condition of anonymity.

CNN reports:

The epicenter of the quake, which struck about 3:15 p.m. local time, was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the city of Saravan, the center said.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Saravan area, and rescue workers have been deployed from other provinces, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Carrieann Bedwell, a USGS seismologist, said a 7.8-magnitude earthquake was "a large event for any area" and could be expected to cause damage in inhabited places.

Reuters adds:

Iran sits on major geological faultlines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 that flattened the city of Bam, in Iran's far southeast, killing more than 25,000 people.

This quake also shook tall buildings in India's capital New Delhi, sending people running into the streets, witnesses said. People also evacuated buildings in Qatar and Dubai, residents said.

"I was working and my work station was shaking," said Viidhu Sekhri, 35, an underwriter at a New Delhi insurance company. "Then it was a bit shaky so we just rushed outside."

Earlier in the day two smaller tremors were felt in India's Himalayan region close to the Chinese border.

An official at India's disaster management authority said the tremors felt in New Delhi and across northern India were because of the earthquake in Iran.

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