People are evacuated from the Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi after tremors in the UAE. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Dubai: Strong tremors were felt in cities across the UAE due to a severe earthquake on the western coastline of Iran Tuesday afternoon.

The shockwaves of the quake felt in the UAE forced residents of high-rise buildings to rush out to nearby open places.

The earthquake, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, jolted several Iranian cities at 3.52pm (1152 GMT), which followed a serious of aftershocks measuring 5.4, 4.6, 4.8, and 4.1, according to the world’s major seismology centres monitoring the region. The powerful quake killed at least 30 people in Iran and injured 800 but left Iran's only nuclear power plant intact, reports AFP.

The shockwaves of the first quake took almost half an hour to reach Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah some 500km across the Arabian Gulf. No casualties and property damage were reported.

The epicentre of the quake was located some 280km in the north of Manama, Bahrain across the sea. It was some 10km deep, according to the US Geological Survey. The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) said the earthquake’s epicentre was some 153km in the south-west of the Iranian city of Shiraz and some 500km in the north-west of Abu Dhabi.

The closest Iranian city to the earthquake centre is Bushehr, home to Iran’s only nuclear power plant. The jolts were also felt in neighbouring GCC countries including Bahrain, Qatar and parts of Saudi Arabia.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi were rocked by jolts at around 3.50pm. Residents panicked and rushed out to safety. Yousuf Aklia, who works as an architect in Tecom in Dubai, said that he was sitting in his office on the 17th floor and felt quite dizzy. He heard one of his colleagues saying ‘earthquake’. “The earthquake lasted for around 8 seconds,” he said, adding that people from other departments in the building were evacuated.

A Gulf News reader said: “I felt strong tremors in Dubai in Al Nahda. It was really scary...I experienced the same in India also, back in 2001.”

Sharjah residents also confirmed that they experienced mild shaking of the ground. Naveen Frank, who was sitting at his desk on the 14th floor of a building on Sharjah’s Corniche Road, said that he felt the ground shake for a little over five seconds. “The tables and chairs were shaking and we felt mild tremors at the office,” he said. The building was evacuated immediately after the fire alarm went off, he added.

N. Farah, a media specialist in Abu Dhabi, said she felt the tremors in her apartment on Najda Street.

“We were on the ninth floor, and the shaking did not last very long. I actually thought the tremors were from the construction work taking place behind our building. Thankfully, there was no damage,” she said.

An hour after the initial tremors were felt, hundreds of people were still gathered below buildings in the capital. Most were workers in high-rise office towers whose buildings had been evacuated following safety procedures.

Another Sharjah resident, Yasmeen Maqbool, a housewife living on the 17th floor of a residential building in Al Nahda, said she also felt the tremors at her apartment. “The chandeliers and curtains were shaking for more than a minute and then it stopped for a few minutes and started again but it was not as bad,” she said, adding that only residents on higher floors experienced the earthquake.