Powerful earthquake on Iran-Iraq border kills over 330

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the Iraq-Iran border region killed over 330 people in both countries, sent people fleeing their homes into the night and was felt as far west as the Mediterranean coast, authorities reported yesterday.

Iran’s western Kermanshah province bore the brunt of the temblor, with Iran’s state-run news agency reported the quake killed 328 people in the country.

State television said some 3,950 were injured.

The area is a rural, mountainous region where residents rely mainly on farming to make a living.

The earthquake killed at least seven people in Iraq and injured 535 there, all in the country’s northern, semiautonomous Kurdish region, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

The magnitude 7.3 quake was centred 31 kilometres outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the US Geological Survey. It struck at a depth of 23.2 kilometres, a shallow depth that can have broader damage.

Magnitude 7 earthquakes on their own are capable of widespread, heavy damage.

Iranian social media and news agencies showed images and videos of people fleeing their homes into the night. More than 100 aftershocks followed. The quake’s worst damage appeared to be in the town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq.

Survivors of the earthquake warm themselves in front of destroyed buildings at the city of Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran yesterday. – AP

Kokab Fard, a 49-year-old housewife in Sarpol-e-Zahab, said she could only flee empty-handed when her apartment complex collapsed.

“Immediately after I managed to get out, the building collapsed,” Fard said. “I have no access to my belongings.”

Reza Mohammadi, 51, said he and his family ran out into the alley following the first shock he felt.

“I tried to get back to pick some stuff but it totally collapsed in the second wave,” Mohammadi said.

Those in Sarpol-e-Zahab also said the power and water were out in the town as telephone and cellphone lines were spotty.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday morning and urged rescuers and all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected, state media reported.

The semi-official ILNA news agency said at least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected by the earthquake.