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Quake hits near Iran’s nuclear city Bushehr, 37 dead via Reuters

(Reuters) – A powerful earthquake struck close to Iran’s only nuclear power station on Tuesday, killing 37 people and injuring 850 as it destroyed homes and devastated two small villages, Iranian media reported.

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Across the Gulf, offices in Qatar and Bahrain were evacuated after the quake, whose epicenter was 89 km (55 miles) southeast of the port of Bushehr, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The early afternoon shock was also felt in financial hub Dubai.

The Russian company that built the nuclear power station, 18 km (11 miles) south of Bushehr, said the plant was unaffected.

“Personnel continue to work in the normal regime and radiation levels are fully within the norm,” Russian state news agency RIA quoted an official at Atomstroyexport as saying.

Iran informed the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency that there was “no damage to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and no radioactive release from the installation”, an agency statement said.

One Bushehr resident said the quake shook her home and the homes of her neighbors but they were not damaged.

“We could clearly feel the earthquake,” Nikoo, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said. “The windows and chandeliers all shook.”

While initial fears about nuclear fallout receded, nearer the epicenter the rescue efforts ramped up into the night in search of survivors and to feed and house hundreds of residents who were traumatized by at least 16 aftershocks.

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