5 killed, 300 injured as earthquake hits northwestern Iran

(CNN) — At least five people have been killed and 330 others injured after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Iran on Friday, Iranian state-run Press TV reported.

Press TV said emergency and evaluation teams are operating and Red Crescent teams have been dispatched to the area.

The tremor struck at around 2:00 a.m. local time (5:30 p.m ET Thursday) in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province and there have been more than 50 aftershocks, Press TV said. It added that buildings in the area have been destroyed.

The quake had a shallow depth of only 8 kilometers (almost 5 miles) according to the University of Tehran Seismological Center, as cited by Iranian state media.

Initial reports said three small villages in the area were destroyed in the quake, semi-official FARS news reported.

Iran sits on a major fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian plates and has experienced many earthquakes in the past.

Last year, a quake that struck near the Iran-Iraq border in November killed at least 361 people.

More than 400 people were killed and thousands injured when a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck near the Iran-Iraq border in November 2017.

The deadliest this century occurred in 2003 when a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the southeastern city of Bam, killing some 26,000 people.

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