June 29, 2006

Strong Quake Shakes Iran island in the Gulf

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 struck the southern Iranian province of Hormuzgan, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, the semi-official Fars news agency said on Thursday.

The quake hit the Gulf island of Qeshm off Hormuzgan's south coast at 11:32 p.m. (2002 GMT) on Wednesday. The full extent of the damage was not immediately known.

"Rescue teams had been sent to the area," a spokesman for Hormuzgan's Red Crescent aid network told Reuters, adding that he did not think the quake had done much damage.

Ten people were killed and 50 injured when an earthquake measuring 5.9 razed mud-brick villages of Qeshm in November. The traditional mud-brick dwellings of southern Iran are vulnerable to quakes.

Qeshm is the biggest island in the Gulf and is a free-trade zone with a population of about 120,000. It is not in an oil-producing area.