USGS graph showing the location of the powerful earthquake, which struck at a depth of 10 km, 57 km northeast of Hastrud

At least five people have been killed and 300 more were injured as a powerful earthquake struck north-western Iran.

The tremor struck in the Middle Eastern country’s Eastern Azerbaijan province, 250 miles from Iran’s capital, Tehran.

Over 40 aftershocks rattled the rural region nestled in the Alborz Mountains, and residents rushed out of their homes in fear.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude 5.9 quake’s epicentre was at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles).

It struck shortly before 2.30am on Friday (10.30pm on Thursday UK time).

The USGS warned that “significant casualties” are likely and that the “disaster is potentially widespread”.

The head of Iran’s emergency medical services, Pirhossein Koulivand, said at least five people were killed.

Rescuers have been dispatched to the region, officials said.

State TV reported the earthquake destroyed 30 homes at its epicentre and left 312 people injured.

The country has suffered a number of major disasters in recent decades.

In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

A magnitude 7 earthquake that struck western Iran in 2017 killed more than 600 people and injured more than 9,000.

Iran is on major seismic faults and experiences one earthquake a day on average.