By Parisa Hafezi
ANKARA (Reuters) - A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.0 struck southeastern Iran on Friday, injuring at least 42 people and destroying several homes in an area where most people live in villages of mud-walled homes. State media said no deaths had been reported.
Rescue workers, special teams with sniffer dogs and units of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia forces were sent to the quake-hit areas in Kerman province, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said.
State TV said many residents rushed out of houses in Kerman city and nearby villages and towns, fearing more tremors after some 51 aftershocks following the 6:32 a.m. (0232 GMT) quake.
"The quake destroyed some houses in 14 villages but so far there has been no fatalities," a local official told state TV. "Fortunately no deaths have been reported so far."
The quake struck less than three weeks after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit villages and towns in Iran's western Kermansheh province along the mountainous border with Iraq, killing 530 people and injuring thousands of others.
The U.S. Geological Survey said Friday's quake, at first reported as magnitude 6.3, was centred 36 miles (58 km) northeast of Kerman city, which has a population of more than 821,000. The quake was very shallow, at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), which would have amplified the shaking in the poor, sparsely populated area.
Head of Relief and Rescue Organization of Iran's Red Crescent Morteza Salimi told state television that at least 42 people were injured. Iran's state news agency IRNA said most of those hurt had minor injuries.
"Assessment teams are surveying the earthquake-stricken areas and villages in Kerman province," IRNA quoted local official Mohammadreza Mirsadeqi as saying.
Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency said the quake had caused heavy damage in Hojedk town and some villages were hit by power and water cuts.
State TV aired footage of damaged buildings in remote mountainous villages near Hojedk town, the epicentre of the earthquake with a population of 3,000 people. TV said coal mines in the area had been closed because of aftershocks.
Iran’s Red Crescent said emergency shelter, food and water had been sent to the quake-hit areas.
Criss-crossed by several major fault lines, Iran is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake in Kerman province killed 31,000 people and flattened the ancient city of Bam.
(Additional reporting by Sandra Maler in Washington; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by William Maclean and Peter Graff)