Image Credit: Gulf News

Tehran: Three people, including two children, have been killed and 40 others injured in an earthquake which struck Iran's biggest desert, Dasht-e Kavir, state television reported on Saturday.

The 5.9 magnitude quake struck on Friday south of the northern city of Damghan.

In a separate report, the state television website quoted secretary general of Iran Red Crescent, Zaher Rostani, as saying that an elderly woman was also among those killed in the quake.

The website said six villages near Damghan were damaged in the quake, which was about 278 kilometres  east of Tehran.

The tremor, which struck at 11:53pm (1923 GMT) Friday, was also felt in the capital Tehran.

Iran sits astride several major fault lines in the Earth's crust, and is prone to frequent earthquakes, many of which have been devastating.

The worst in recent times was a 6.3 magnitude quake which hit the southern city of Bam in December 2003, killing 31,000 people, about a quarter of its population, and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel.