Moderate quake hits Iran, 30 reported hurt

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TEHRAN, Nov 20 (Reuters) Some 30 students were lightly injured as they rushed out of classrooms when a 5.1 magnitude earthquake jolted Iran's oil-rich southwest today, an Iranian news agency said.

Official media reported only minor damage to buildings. The quake occurred at 1050 hrs IST near the town of Ghaleh-tal in eastern Khuzestan province. It was felt in the provincial capital Ahvaz and elsewhere.

''Some 30 students were slightly hurt as they were trying to leave schools when the earthquake happened,'' ISNA news agency quoted a local official, Shapour Rostami, as saying.

State television earlier said 20 people were injured.

Khuzestan is the heartland of the oil industry in the world's number four producer, but most oil fields lie to the west and south of the quake's reported epicentre.

''Rescue workers have been sent to some of the villages and towns hit by the earthquake and fortunately they have only reported damage such as cracks in the walls of some houses,'' another official, Yadollah Janaki, told IRNA news agency.

Natural disaster experts say Iran is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world because it is criss-crossed by several major faultlines.

REUTERS PD BST1956

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