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Russian Firm Says Nuclear Plant Unaffected by Iran Quake

DUBAI — A powerful earthquake killed four people in southern Iran on Tuesday close to the country's only nuclear power station, state television and agencies reported.

A Red Cross official said two villages had been heavily damaged by the magnitude 6.3 quake but the Russian company that built the Bushehr plant said the reactor was undamaged.

Offices in the capitals of Qatar and Bahrain were evacuated after the quake, whose epicenter was 89 kilometers southeast of the port city of Bushehr, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The shock was also felt in financial hub Dubai, according to witnesses and messages on Twitter.

Gulf Arab countries and Western experts have voiced concerns about the Bushehr plant, built in a highly seismic area. Iran has repeatedly rejected concerns it could be unsafe.

State television gave no further details of the four casualties.

Thousands of people live near the nuclear plant and the villages of Shanbe and Sana, whose populations are less than 2,000 each, suffered serious damage, Red Crescent official Morteza Moradipour told state news agency IRNA.

The Russian company that built the nuclear power station, 18 kilometers south of Bushehr, said operations at the plant were unaffected.

"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," RIA-Novosti quoted an official at Atomstroiexport as saying.

A local Iranian official, who asked not to be identified, said the quake had been felt in Bushehr, but added: "I don't think anything happened to the Bushehr power plant as it happened outside Bushehr city."

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