TEHRAN // A 5.3-magnitude earthquake has jolted southern Iran, injuring 16 people and destroying as many as 10 villages, Mehr news agency reported.
The quake struck at 9.25 am (5:55 GMT) in the Ardakan region of Fars province, disaster-management official Hamid Taghzadeh was cited as saying in the report.
"Sixteen people have been injured, while 17 villages have been damaged, of which six to 10 are completely destroyed," he said.
At least five aftershocks occurred after the main quake, which also rattled the provincial capital of Shiraz, Mehr reported.
Iran sits astride several major fault lines in the Earth's crust and is prone to frequent quakes, many of which have been devastating.
A quake Dec. 21 in the southeastern province of Kerman had left seven people dead, wrecked several villages and brought down power lines.
The deadliest in recent times was a 6.3-magnitude quake which hit the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing 31,000 people--about a quarter of its population--and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel.