6.6 magnitude earthquake shakes Iran near Caspian Sea

A magnitude-6.6 earthquake shook a remote area of Iran near the Caspian Sea on Thursday, officials said, injuring several people.

A local official in Sarpol-e Zahab, Kaveh Mehdadi, said the death toll could rise further.

A government official said hospitals there were overcrowded.

Images posted on social media by local residents showed collapsed buildings, including parts of homes and whole roads.

Mehdadi told state-run television that the army, police and fire fighters were on the scene.

The quake was centered about 22 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of the city of Sarpol-e Zahab, which is about 155 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of Tehran, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The shallow, relatively strong quake left several injured, Mehdadi said.

Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to seismic upheaval and instability. In 2003, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. The same year, a magnitude-7.6 quake in Kerman province killed 31,000 people.

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