A magnitude 5.2 earthquake was felt Wednesday night in Tehran and several provinces in northern Iran, but the quake did not seem to have caused major damage or casualties according to the first available information.

According to the Seismological Center of the University of Tehran, the earthquake occurred shortly before 23:30 (20:00 GMT). Its epicenter was located about 40 kilometers west of the Iranian capital, which has some 8.5 million inhabitants. The earthquake was felt for ten seconds in Tehran, according to AFP journalists.

Braving the heavy pollution that makes air difficult to breathe for four days in Tehran, hundreds of residents of the capital are out in the streets, immediately after the tremor so as not to be trapped at home in case of a reply.

Around 1:00 am (9:30 pm GMT), the authorities had not identified any damage or casualties and calm had returned to the capital after the adrenaline rush caused by the earthquake. The agency Fars reported a car stuck in a landslide.

According to Iranian state television, the earthquake was felt in the provinces of Tehran, Alborz, Qom, Ghazvin, Mazandaran and Markazi, in northern Iran.

Reassured by the turn of events, many Teheranais finally went to bed at home, but others, cautious, preferred to spend the night outside. According to the official Irna news agency, the authorities have opened stadiums for people who would like to sleep there.

In the Apadana neighborhood, in the center of the capital, about fifty people occupied a small public park at a time when the place usually belongs to the few dog owners of the neighborhood, said an AFP journalist.

Wrapped in coats or blankets while the temperature has dropped to 7 degrees, some occupy the park benches. Others are hugging each other in cars.

Behnam Rahmani, 45, is there with visiting friends he was staying with. "For twenty years, the leaders warn that the whole city will be destroyed in the event of an earthquake, what have they done to prevent such a tragedy?" he asks.

"Our house was shaking, my wife panicked," says 43-year-old Roohi Deris, who believes it's best to spend the night outside with her wife and two children.

Net revival of activity

Located on the borders of several tectonic plates and crossed by several faults, Iran is an area of ​​strong seismic activity. And a net increase of activity has been observed for two months.

On Nov. 12, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake left 620 dead and more than 12,000 wounded in Kermanshah province. The disaster also killed eight people in Iraq.

The recent major earthquakes remain anchored in the Iranian collective memory.

In December 2003, an earthquake annihilated the historic city of Bam in Iran, in Kerman province (south-east). At least 31,000 people had been killed.

In April 2013, Iran had suffered two earthquakes of magnitude 6.4, then 7.7, the worst shock since 1957 in that country. They had killed about 40 people in Iran and as much in neighboring Pakistan.

In June 1990, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in Iran near the Caspian Sea (north) left 40,000 dead, more than 300,000 injured and 500,000 homeless. In a matter of seconds, an area of ​​2,100 km2, comprising 27 towns and 1,871 villages spread over the provinces of Ghilan and Zandjan, had been devastated.