TEHRAN - At least 66 people were killed when a powerful earthquake struck western Iran, destroying whole villages and sending frightened residents fleeing from their homes, according to the latest toll.

Another 988 people were injured in the quake which hit the province of Lorestan near the border with Iraq with a force of 6.0 on the Richter scale, state news agency IRNA quoted the head of the province's medical university Qodratollah Shams Khoramabadi as saying.

"Forty-five have been killed in Borujerd area along with 900 people injured and the rest are from the Doroud area," he said.