Tehran, Iran – Two powerful earthquakes have hit southern Iran in quick succession, leaving at least one person dead and sending panicked residents rushing to the streets.
Esmaeil Bayramnejad, the head of the Iranian Seismological Center, told state television the two tremors of magnitude 6.4 and 6.3 respectively struck one minute apart in an area near the island of Qeshm, close to the port city of Bandar Abbas, on Sunday afternoon.
The quakes were felt in neighbouring provinces, including Kerman, as well as in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Several aftershocks were reported in the following hours in Iran.
The victim died when an electricity pole fell on him while walking on a street in Bandar Abbas. Videos on social media also showed parts of the Geno Mountain in Bandar Abbas collapsing.
Emergency officials told state TV that no further casualties or extensive damage have been reported so far.
“We were working when we felt the building shake badly,” a young woman told state TV. “We thought it would be over soon but it went on for about 30 seconds so we ran out.”
Electricity and internet outages have been reported in the affected provinces, some areas of which have also experienced disruptions in landline phones. Officials said they would be reconnected soon.
President Ebrahim Raisi ordered an immediate gathering of his cabinet to discuss measures to ensure the safety of affected areas. He also ordered his first vice president, Mohammad Mohkber, to travel to Hormozgan to personally assess the situation.
Eerily, the quakes come a day after a senior deputy at the Tehran Municipality announced that a large cemetery with an area of 13 hectares is being prepared to be able to house the victims of a potentially deadly quake in the capital.
Experts have for years warned that Tehran may one day be hit by a major earthquake as it sits close to fault lines.