Tehran, Iran - A strong earthquake rocked southern Iran on Wednesday, killing three people and sending tremors across the Persian Gulf to the skyscrapers of Dubai.

The country's seismological center said the magnitude 6 quake struck at 3:30 p.m., with the epicenter about 850 miles south of the capital Tehran in the province of Hormozgan. The region's main city, Bandar Abbas, is one of Iran's key ports and home to a large oil refinery that primarily serves the domestic market.

The quake, which was followed by 10 aftershocks, knocked out power and caused minor damage on the Gulf island of Qeshm. State television reported three people were killed and 26 injured.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the initial quake's strength at magnitude 6.1.

Abdolkarim Setareh, a local official in the epicenter town of Bandar-e-Khamir said extensive damage was unlikely.

"Houses in this region have been built in recent years and are resistant to earthquakes. Only minor damage has been reported from a dozen villages so far," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Across the Persian Gulf in Dubai, the tremors sent office workers rushing out of high-rises in the city-state's commercial center.

"My bed was hitting against the wall," said Rheanne Anderson, a Canadian teacher living in the nearby emirate of Ras al-Khaimah. "There was definitely some shaking."

Iran is located on seismic fault lines and averages at least one slight earthquake every day.

In February 2005, a magnitude 6.4 quake in southern Iran killed 612 people. A magnitude 6.6 quake flattened the historic city of Bam in the same region in December 2003, killing 26,000 people.


Associated Press writers Barbara Surk and Adam Schreck in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.