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Quake shakes east Iran; no reports of casualties

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December 5, 2012 01:22 PM EST | AP

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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency says a moderate earthquake has shaken eastern Iran. There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Fars says the 5.5-magnitude quake hit South Khorasan province in eastern Iran near the border with Afghanistan at 20:38 local time (17:08 GMT) Wednesday.

The report says the quake caused panic and prompted residents of provincial capital Birjand to flee their homes. No other details were immediately available.

Even moderate quakes have killed thousands of people in the past in the Iranian countryside, where houses are often built of mud bricks.

Some 26,000 people were killed by a 6.6-magnitude quake that flattened the historic southeastern city of Bam in the same region in 2003.