An earthquake struck early Friday near Iran’s highest peak and jolted Tehran, killing at least one person and injuring more than 20 as people ran for their lives.
The shallow 4.6 magnitude quake hit at 00:48 a.m. (2018 GMT) near the city of Damavand, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) east of Tehran, the US Geological Survey said.
It saw scores of residents of Tehran flee buildings for the safety of the capital’s streets and parks, AFP journalists reported.
Many spent the rest of the night sleeping in their cars on the side of the road, apparently too fearful to return to their homes.
Some wore face masks, a sign of the times in a country already struggling to contain the Middle East’s deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The temblor struck as Iranians were either sleeping or resting after iftar, the meal breaking the daytime fast observed by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said on Twitter that the tremor claimed the life of one person.
He called on people to “keep calm” and to follow safety guidelines.
Iran’s national emergency services said the person who died was a 60-year-old man in Damavand county. Twenty-three people were injured in Tehran and Alborz provinces, a spokesman for the organization said.
The Iranian Red Crescent said its staff were on standby but that so far there were no reports of any collapsed buildings in which to carry out search and rescue operations.
The USGS said the quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers. Its epicenter was south of Mount Damavand, a largely inactive volcano which at 5,671 meters (18,606 feet) is Iran’s highest peak.
Tehran University’s Seismological Center said the quake had a magnitude of 5.1 magnitude and was at a depth of seven kilometers. It reported a series of aftershocks, the most powerful measuring 4.0.