Representational Image of an earthquake
Representational Image of an earthquake Reuters

Northwestern Iran was hit by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in the early hours on Friday, killing at least five people and injuring 120 others. The quake struck 35 miles from the city of Hashtrud in East Azerbaijan Province, at 2.17 a.m. local time, said the US Geological Survey (USGS). The earthquake had a shallow depth of 6.2 miles causing more damage than expected.

The above casualty figures were given by Pirhossein Koulivand (Iran's emergency medical services chief) to state TV. Otherwise, "significant casualties are likely and the disaster is potentially widespread" said USGS in an alert.

At least 30 houses had been destroyed according to the provincial governor Mohammad-Reza Pourmohammadi. Iran encounters one earthquake a day on average due to the seismic faults in the region. 26,000 people were killed by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake in Bam in 2003.

More recently in 2017, Western Iran was hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake killing over 700 people.

(The story is developing. Will be updated later)