TEHRAN, Iran — An earthquake toppled homes and shops on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border Tuesday, killing dozens of people and causing skyscrapers to sway in Dubai. It also forced Iranian officials – for the second time in less than a week – to issue assurances that its main nuclear reactor wasn’t damaged.

At least 34 people were killed in a single village in Pakistan, a military official said. But the overall death toll became clouded after conflicting reports from Iran.

At first, Iran’s state-run Press TV said at least 40 people died – which would push the two-nation tally to 74. But it later retreated from its account, and other Iranian outlets stepped in with a far less dire picture.

Up to 1,000 mud homes were damaged, Pakistan Television said.

Pakistani policeman Azmatullah Regi said nearly three dozen homes and shops collapsed in one village in the Mashkel area, which was the hardest hit by the quake. Rescue workers pulled the bodies of a couple and their three children, ages 5 to 15, from the rubble of one house, he said.

The Pakistani army ordered paramilitary troops to assist with rescue operations and provide medical treatment. Additional troops are being moved to the area, and army helicopters were mobilized to carry medical staff, tents, medicine and other relief items.

The discrepancies and apparent backtracking in the Iranian reports could not be immediately reconciled, but it was the second quake to hit Iran in less than week and authorities could be seeking to downplay casualties.

Commentary on Iranian TV criticized international media for “exaggerating” the death toll, raising further questions about the full extent of the damage in the rugged region that’s a front line in Iran’s battle against drug traffickers and the Sunni-based militant group, Jundallah.

Press TV initially said at least 40 people were killed on the Iranian side, but later removed the figure from its website and news scroll. Other state-controlled outlets, including the official IRNA news agency, mentioned no deaths and only up to 27 injuries, quoting a local official.

The website of Tehran Geophysics Center said the quake, measured at least magnitude 7.7, lasted 40 seconds and called it the strongest in more than 50 years in one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Press TV called it “massive,” but likely far less menacing than lesser quakes in far more populated areas.

It also was the second deadly quake to hit Iran in less than a week after a magnitude 6.1 temblor struck near Bushehr, on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast, killing at least 37 people and raising calls for greater international safety inspectors at Iran’s lone nuclear reactor nearby.

Press TV said the quake was centered near Saravan, about 26 miles from the Pakistani border.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of nine miles.

Iran’s nuclear chief Fereidoun Abbasi said there was no damage to the Bushehr reactor and invited U.N. inspectors to visit, ISNA reported.

The earthquake was felt over a vast area from New Delhi – about 900 miles from the epicenter – to Gulf cities that have some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.