0417 GMT January 19, 2020
The 5.9-magnitude quake struck about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southeast of the city of Tabriz, East Azerbaijan Province, in the early hours of the morning, the Iranian Seismological Center said.
Described as "moderate", the shallow quake was eight kilometers (five miles) deep and was followed by five aftershocks.
Over 80 aftershocks rattled the rural region nestled in the Alborz Mountains, and residents rushed out of their homes in fear. The quake injured at least 352 people, though only 13 needed to be hospitalized.
Many of people were injured while trying to flee their houses in panic.
Provincial Governor Mohammadreza Pourmohammadi told local media the earthquake destroyed 30 homes at its epicenter and damaged more than a thousand homes.
President Hassan Rouhani called the local governor, ordering to allocate all means and resources to deal with the emergency. He also sent Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Reza Rahmani to the quake-hit areas to closely monitor the situation.
Rescue operations were underway in more than 40 villages, but the damage was largely concentrated in two areas.
Volunteer Basij forces rushed to villages shortly after the quake hit and pulled many survivors from the rubble, commander of 31st Ashura Division of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) General Abedin Khorram said.
"Given that a drill was being held in Mianeh, Basij forces were immediately dispatched to the quake-hit areas and rescued the villagers who were under the debris," he told Tasnim News Agency.
Army units in northwestern provinces of East Azarbaijan and Ardebil have also been put on alert for rescue and relief operations.
According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC), some 20 million people felt the quake across Iran and possibly in neighboring Turkey.
Iran sits where two major tectonic plates meet and experiences frequent seismic activity.
The country has suffered a number of major disasters in recent decades, including at the ancient city of Bam, which was decimated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2003 that killed at least 31,000 people.
In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake in northern Iran killed 40,000 people, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless, reducing dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.
Iran has experienced at least two other significant quakes in recent years – one in 2005 that killed more than 600 people and another in 2012 that left some 300 dead.
AFP, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.