An earthquake shook Lebanon, Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday, sending panicked people in several towns in the south of Lebanon out on to the streets.

The tremor -- the second in the region this week -- hit at around 1030 GMT, but its intensity was not immediately known.

Friday's quake was felt throughout Lebanon, including the capital Beirut, where many buildings shook.

In the southern coastal city of Tyre, residents ran toward the seashore and began reciting verses of the Koran after the tremor struck, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Local television reported injuries and said some villages experienced power cuts.

The chimney on one building in Tyre came tumbling down, crushing several vehicles, but there were no immediate reports of victims.

Israeli media reports said the quake was also felt in the central part of the country and in the Gaza Strip, without any initial reports of injuries or property damage.

Seismology experts in Israel warn of a major earthquake within years because of a major faultline in the region.

Another tremor measuring about 4.0 on the open-ended Richter scale struck Lebanon on February 12 and was also felt in Israel. Its epicentre was six kilometres (four miles) east of Tyre.

The last earthquake of such magnitude to shake the country took place in 2001 with its epicentre in the Bekaa region of eastern Lebanon.