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Iran hit by 5.5 magnitude earthquake; at least 5 dead


Iranians mourn over the covered bodies of loved ones in the village Baje-Baj, near the town of Varzaqan, on August 12, 2012.


Atta Kenare

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck Iran Wednesday, leaving at least five people dead and 20 more injured. 

The quake struck South Khorasan province, close to the Afghan border, at 8:38 p.m. local time, BBC News reported

Many in the province's capital of Birjand also evacuated their homes.

Mohammad Ali Akhoundi, head of South Khorasan province's crisis management service, said that at least five villages in the area were "destroyed or damaged" in the earthquake.

Search and rescue teams had been dispatched to the area, which is currently without communication, Agence France Presse reported

This is the latest in a series of fatal quakes in Iran, a country located on major fault lines, Reuters reported. A 6.6 magnitude quake in 2003 destroyed the city of Bam and left over 25,000 dead, and a more recent pair of temblors in August killed more than 300 people in the country's northwest. 

More from GlobalPost: Iran earthquake: 306 dead, over 3,000 injured — officials