Dozens killed and hundreds injured as earthquake hits near Iran's nuclear city Bushehr

 

Jerusalem

At least 30 people were killed and 800 injured today when a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Iran’s only nuclear power plant.

Officials said that work at the Bushehr site was unaffected by the quake which was felt as far away as Dubai, across the Strait of Hormuz, and in Qatar. The earthquake comes as pressure mounts on Tehran over its nuclear programme, which most of the international community says is bent on developing a nuclear weapon but which Iranian officials insist is designed only for peaceful purposes.

The Red Cross has said two villages close to the plant – Shanbe and Sana, which both have populations are about 2,000 - had been badly damaged, but the Russian company that built the Bushehr plant said the reactor was undamaged.

An Iranian official, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said the earthquake had been felt at the nuclear site, but said: “I don't think anything happened to the Bushehr power plant as it happened outside Bushehr city.” It is thought that the plant is about 20km away from the two villages.

“The earthquake in no way affected the normal situation at the reactor. 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 the company, Atomstroyexport, as saying.

The quake came as John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, was in Jerusalem for talks with Benjamin Netanyahu about the Israel-Palestinian peace process and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Speaking after the meeting, Mr Kerry, said that, “Iran cannot have and will not have a nuclear weapon”.

There was little new of substantive progress on the peace process. Mr Kerry said today that the most recent talks had focussed on “some economic initiative”, but that both he and Mr Netanyahu agreed that “the political track is first and foremost; other things may happen to supplement it.”

America’s leading diplomat was clear on Iran, however. “The United States of America has made clear that we stand not just with Israel, but with the entire international community in making it clear that we are serious [about not allowing Iran to develop a nuclear weapon], we are open to negotiation, but it is not an open-ended, endless negotiation,” he said.

The comments come after two days of talks between world powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions broke up without resolution at the weekend.

Mr Kerry was not the only foreign official in Israel for talks on Iran today. Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, held talks with Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who on Sunday said that Iran should face military action within, “a few weeks, a month” if there is no progress in talks. Like most officials in Israel, Mr Steinitz believes that the West should lead any military action.

Later this month, the new US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel will visit Jerusalem for talks with his opposite number, the Moshe Ya’alon.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones