Three people have been killed after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Bushehr in Iran, according to state TV. The area is home to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, which is located just 11 miles southeast of the city.
The quake has been given “orange alert level” by the US Geological Survey (USGS). An orange alert means that significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.
The earthquake’s epicenter was 89 kilometers (55 miles) away from the plant, just outside the town of Kaki. There are currently no reports available from the town.
The depth of the quake was 10 km (6.2miles). It was followed by several aftershocks.
“We could clearly feel the earthquake,” a local resident told Reuters. “The windows and chandeliers all shook.”
The Bushehr plant remains unaffected, according to an official from Atomstroyexport – the Russian company which built the station.
“The earthquake in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor, personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm,” he told RIA Novosti.
People on social media reported feeling the quake in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There were no immediate reports of damages.
Gulf Arab countries and Western experts have voiced concerns about the Bushehr plant, which is built in a heily seismic area. Iran has repeatedly denied allegations that it could be unsafe.
Bushehr, which is home to around 160,000 people, is located on Iran’s southwestern coastal region. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said in December another plant is slated for construction next to the Bushehr plant.
Iran extends across several major faults in the earth’s crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes. In August 2012, two quakes in Northwestern Iran claimed the lives of 306 people and injured more than 4,500 others.
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