TEHRAN: The 5.9-magnitude earthquake jolted northwestern Iran killing five people and injuring 120, during the wee hours of Friday.
The Iranian Seismological Center said that the 5.9-magnitude quake struck about 120 kilometers southeast of the city of Tabriz, in East Azerbaijan Province, in the early hours of the morning.
The shallow quake was eight kilometres deep and was followed by five aftershocks.
Provincial governor, Mohammad-Reza Pourmohammadi, told local media that at least 30 houses had been destroyed.
Rescue operations were underway in 41 rural villages, but the damage was largely concentrated in two areas.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) issued an alert warning that significant casualties were likely and the disaster is potentially widespread.
Iran sits where two major tectonic plates meet and experiences frequent seismic activity.
The country has suffered a number of major disasters in recent decades, including at the ancient city of Bam, which was decimated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2003 that killed at least 31,000 people.