No damage to nuclear reactor says Iran
Vienna, April 10, 2013
Iran has told the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that an earthquake that struck close to the country's only nuclear plant on Tuesday did not damage the facility, the IAEA said.
The Vienna-based UN body said the quake - which Iranian media said killed 37 people as it devastated small villages - hit about 91 km (56 miles) from the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
"Iran has informed (the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre) of the event, reporting that there has been no damage to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and no radioactive release from the installation," the UN agency said in a statement.
Based on this information and the IAEA's own seismic analysis of the earthquake's magnitude, location and other factors, the agency "is not currently seeking additional information from Iran," the statement added.
The 6.3 magnitude quake totally destroyed one village, a Red Crescent official told the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), but the nearby Bushehr nuclear plant was undamaged, according to Iranian officials and the Russian company that built it.
"Due to the intensity of this earthquake, this tragedy has deepened and we have seen the destruction of many homes in the region, the deaths of 37 people and more than 850 injured," the governor of Bushehr province, Fereydoun Hassanvand, told Mehr news agency.
Many houses in rural parts of the province are made of mud bricks, which have been known to crumble easily in quake-prone Iran. Some 700 homes were destroyed, Hassanvand said.
Across the Gulf, offices in Qatar and Bahrain were evacuated after the quake. The early afternoon shock was also felt in financial hub Dubai.
The Russian company that built the nuclear power station, 18 km (11 miles) south of Bushehr, said the plant was unaffected.
"Personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm," Russian state news agency RIA quoted an official at Atomstroyexport as saying.
One Bushehr resident said the quake shook her home and the homes of her neighbours but they were not damaged.
"We could clearly feel the earthquake," Nikoo, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said. "The windows and chandeliers all shook."
While initial fears about nuclear fallout receded, nearer the epicentre the rescue efforts ramped up into the night in search of survivors and to feed and house hundreds of residents who were traumatised by at least 16 aftershocks.
A Red Crescent official told ISNA that 20 people had been saved by rescue teams searching through the rubble.
Reports in Iranian media spoke of landslides destroying buildings and crowds gathering in the town of Dashti from outlying areas in search of help. Military officials said army and police units had been deployed to maintain order.
Water and electricity lines were severed and communities stayed in the streets because of the threat from aftershocks.
Iran's most powerful authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, offered his condolences to the victims and urged authorities to extend all efforts to save lives and help the afflicted. - Reuters