At least seven people have been killed in an earthquake in Iran. The quake struck near the city of Bushehr, where the country's sole nuclear power plant is situated, according to reports from state news agency IRNA.

The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 5.6, struck about 60 km northeast of Bushehr on the Gulf coast, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. No damage to the nuclear plant has been reported.

IRNA say seven people have died, and quoted the governor of Bushehr as saying there was "total calm" in the area. Relief teams have been sent to the affected towns and villages.

Helicopters will be dispatched to assess the damage tomorrow, said Fars news agency, which puts the death toll slightly higher, at eight.

Hossein Derakhshan, a spokesman for the Red Crescent, said there have been some damage to houses in the area because they were traditionally built and not earthquake-proof.

When the quake struck at a depth of 16.4 kilometres there were reports on social media in Saudi Arabia that it was felt in the kingdom's eastern province, across theGulf from Iran.

Iran sits on major geological fault lines and has suffered several major earthquakes in recent years.

Less than one week ago, an earthquake measuring 5.4 in magnitude struck western Iran near its border with Iraq.