Image copyright PA Image caption Iranian rescuers and residents examine the damage in Astara
An earthquake of magnitude 6.5 has struck the coast of northern Iran killing at least one person, Iran’s state TV reports.
Rescue teams are operating in the area after dozens of buildings collapsed, it says.
Iran sits on four major fault lines and is prone to earthquakes. A magnitude 7.3 quake killed more than 600 people in the city of Kerman in 2003.
Iran is also home to several sites of international importance including the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad and the tomb of John the Baptist.
Other recent major quakes in Iran have struck in Bam, Shiraz and Isfahan.
“We live in a place where the sea comes into the city,” Reuters news agency quoted an official as saying.
A popular five-star hotel in the city was damaged by the quake, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
A pillar and the facade of a mosque were destroyed in the town of Tarbiat, IRNA says.
No injuries have been reported in the capital Tehran.
“About 80 buildings including schools, factories and dormitories collapsed,” interior ministry spokesman Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency IRNA.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Authorities have ordered thorough inspections of buildings
There are no figures on casualties, but immediate reports say that people have been killed.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society was working with local officials to check buildings in the region, Rahmani Fazli added.
Emergency services, including police, fire fighters and ambulances, were deployed, IRNA says.
Officials ordered all schools in western Iran to be closed for a day of mourning.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Sunday.
“We have been through this type of challenges many times in the past,” he was quoted as saying by his official website.
Citizens have taken to social media to share their experiences of the quake.
Residents in the picturesque town of Astara in the western Kerman province had spent the night outdoors because their homes had collapsed in the tremor.
Scores of others live in settlements built at sea level and had less damage than their coastal counterparts.
The area has been struck by major tremors since April 28 when an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale and accompanied by a 10-second tremor killed at least six people in eastern Iran.
In the same region in October 2015, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 killed more than 600 people in the area.
In August 2015, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck southwest of the city of Tabriz, killing more than 600 people and injuring 5,000.
Iran sits on some of the Earth’s most active seismic zones and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have a major impact.