By Laura Smith-Spark
(CNN) — At least 40 people are feared dead in Iran after a powerful earthquake near its border with Pakistan, Iran’s state-run Press TV reported Tuesday, citing local reports.
The earthquake was preliminarily measured at 7.8 magnitude, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The Iranian Seismological Center said the earthquake, which it put at magnitude 7.5, had struck Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province.
The epicenter of the quake, which struck about 3:15 p.m. local time, was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the city of Saravan, the center said.
A state of emergency has been declared in the Saravan area, and rescue workers have been deployed from other provinces, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.
Carrieann Bedwell, a USGS seismologist, said a 7.8-magnitude earthquake was “a large event for any area” and could be expected to cause damage in inhabited places.
Aftershocks can be expected for days or weeks after a quake of that magnitude, she said.
The USGS placed the epicenter 53 miles east-southeast of the Iranian city of Khash, 103 miles northeast of Iranshahr and 123 miles southeast of Zahedan.
Shafiq Ahmed, an official with Pakistan’s meteorological department, told CNN the tremor, which he put at magnitude 7.9, struck inside southern Iran, near the border with Pakistan.
Tremors were felt in southern Pakistan, including the city of Karachi, and across Balochistan province from Gwadar on the southern coast to Quetta and the border with Iran.
Taghi Akhavan, an employee at Shaygan Hotel on the Iranian resort island of Kish, said he felt the quake around 3:30 p.m. local time.
He said several guests also reported feeling what they described as a mild tremor, but the hotel did not evacuate guests. He said he has not seen any damage.
Journalist Rabia Ali was among those to feel the quake in Karachi.
“I was at home. I was in my bed, and the bed started moving for a good 15 seconds,” she said. “We realized it was an earthquake and we started evacuating. Everyone came out onto the street and started praying. The children were crying.”
She said that she had not seen any damage in her neighborhood and that things have now calmed down.
The earthquake was felt as far away as Abu Dhabi, where buildings shook for 40 seconds or more, but it’s not yet clear what damage has been caused across the region.
It was measured at a preliminary depth of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles.)
The latest earthquake comes on the heels of another last week in southern Iran, which left at least 37 people dead.
That quake, centered near the city of Kaki, was measured at magnitude 6.3. It did not damage the Bushehr nuclear plant, just over 60 miles away, according to Iranian state media.
CNN’s Reza Sayah, Mitra Mobasherat, Nasir Habib, Leone Lakhani, Saima Mohsin and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.
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