Middle East

Powerful earthquake hits south-east Iran

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Media captionVillagers searched through the rubble following the tremor in Iran's Kerman province

A powerful earthquake has hit south-eastern Iran, killing at least seven people and destroying several villages in Kerman province.

The governor of Kerman said hundreds of people had been injured by the 6.5-magnitude quake with the epicentre near the city of Bam.

The quake was also felt in Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan province.

Bam was devastated by a huge earthquake in 2003 in which tens of thousands died.

Reports said the quake hit Hosseinabad, a small town of a few hundred residents in a sparsely populated region at 2212 local time (1842 GMT).

The governor of Rigan, another town in the area, said many buildings had collapsed and rescue teams were still working on Tuesday to pull people out of the rubble.

A senior Iranian government official, Javad Kamali, told the official IRNA news agency that more emergency teams had been sent to the region.

Telephone contacts to the stricken area have been cut off, Iranian TV reported.

State media reported that at least nine aftershocks had hit Kerman province since the main quake struck late Monday evening local time.