DUBAI (Reuters) - An earthquake measuring 5.5 in magnitude struck eastern Iran on Wednesday, killing five people and injuring 10 others, Iranian media reported, and officials expecting the toll to rise.
People fled from their homes after the powerful quake struck, Fars news agency reported, bringing walls and buildings down and leaving people trapped under rubble in villages across the district of Zahan in South Khorasan province.
Emergency workers had reached some areas and so far five people had been found dead and 10 injured, Tehran's deputy emergency services director Mohammad Sarvar said in a report by Fars. He said the number of dead was likely to rise.
Iran's Red Crescent Society dispatched 15 rescue teams to the affected areas to search for people stuck under the debris and doctors in the provincial capital of Birjand were on alert to treat those hurt, Iranian media said.
At least 12 aftershocks have been registered since the quake struck at 2038 local time (1708 GMT), the Iranian Seismological Center reported.
The USGS said the quake, which it initially recorded as magnitude 6.0, was very shallow at a depth of 3.3. miles. It located the epicenter as 48 miles north-northeast of Birjand, near the border with Afghanistan.
Iran is crisis-crossed by major fault lines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes in recent years, including a 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 which flattened the southeastern city of Bam and killed more than 25,000 people.
In August more than 300 people were killed when two quakes struck northwestern Iran.
(Reporting by Marcus George; Editing by Jon Hemming)
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