At least 32 people died and 850 others were injured in the 6.8-magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale in Kaki city in Iran's southern Bushehr province Tuesday afternoon, according to Xinhua.
Some 700 buildings were seriously damaged, Fereidoon Hassanvand, governor of Bushehr province, was quoted as saying, adding many houses in rural areas are made of mud bricks, which are easily crumbled during quakes.
In two villages, the damaged area exceeded 80 percent, Mahmoud Mozaffar, chief of Iran's Red Crescent Society was quoted as saying by semi-official Mehr news agency.
Semi-official ISNA news agency also quoted Mozaffar as saying that the village of Baghan has been completely damaged.
Water and electricity were cut off. People are still out in the street for fear of aftershocks.
Twenty rescue teams and several helicopters have been dispatched to the quake-hit region from neighboring cities and provinces, he said.
The epicenter of the quake, with a depth of 12 km, was initially determined to be at 28.48 degrees north latitude and 51. 58 degrees east longitude.
Subsequently, 13 aftershocks hit Kaki, some 96 km southeast of Bushehr, home to Iran's first nuclear power plant, according to Iran's Seismological Center.
The power plant was unaffected, state TV quoted the Bushehr provincial governor as saying.
Iran had reported to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency that there was "no damage to the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and no radioactive release from the installation," the nuclear watchdog said in a statement.
Following the deadly earthquake, the representative of Iran's supreme leader in Bushehr province, Ayatollah Gholam-Ali Safaei- Boushehri, announced three mourning days in the province, according to official IRNA news agency.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced on Tuesday his sadness at the loss of life and destruction in the wake of the earthquake.
"The secretary-general is saddened by the loss of life and destruction in Iran caused by today's earthquake in Bushehr," said a statement issued here by his spokesperson.
"The United Nations stands ready to provide assistance and to mobilize any international support that may be needed," the statement added.
The quake was also felt in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar where some high-rise buildings were evacuated.