DUBAI At least seven people were killed in an earthquake in Iran on Thursday near the city of Bushehr, where the country's sole nuclear power plant is situated, state news agency IRNA reported.
The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 5.6, struck about 40 miles northeast of Bushehr on the Gulf coast, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. No damage to the nuclear plant was reported.
IRNA said seven people had died, and quoted the governor of Bushehr saying there was "total calm" in the area. Relief teams had been sent to the affected towns and villages, he said.
Helicopters will be dispatched on Friday to assess the damage, said Fars news agency, which put the death toll slightly higher, at eight.
Hossein Derakhshan, a spokesman for the Red Crescent, said there had been some damage to houses in the area because they were traditionally built and not earthquake-proof, according to news agency ISNA.
When the quake struck at a depth of 10.2 miles earlier on Thursday, there were reports on social media in Saudi Arabia that it was felt in the kingdom's eastern province, across the Gulf from Iran.
Iran sits on major geological faultlines and has suffered several big earthquakes in recent years. Less than one week ago, an earthquake measuring 5.4 in magnitude struck western Iran near its border with Iraq.
(Reporting by Sami Aboudi and Isabel Coles; Editing by Ralph Boulton)