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Strong earthquake hits Iraq and Iran, killing more than 400

More than 300 of the victims were in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah province

Parisa Hafezi & Raya Jalabi | Reuters  |  Ankara/Baghdad 

People look at destroyed buildings after an earthquake at the city of Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran
People look at destroyed buildings after an earthquake at the city of Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran

More than 400 people were killed in Iran when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the country, state media said on Monday, and rescuers were searching for dozens trapped under rubble in the mountainous area. At least six have died in Iraq as well.

State television said more than 407 people were killed in Iran’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade and at least 6,600 were injured. Local officials said the death toll would rise as search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran.

The earthquake, which struck on Sunday, was felt in several western provinces of Iran but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah. More than 300 of the victims were in county in Kermanshah province, about 15 km from the Iraq border.

Iranian state television said the quake had caused heavy damage in some villages where houses were made of earthen bricks. Rescuers were labouring to find survivors trapped under collapsed buildings.

Iranian media reported that a woman and her baby were pulled out alive from the rubble on Monday in Sarpol-e Zahab, the worst hit area with a population of 85,000.

The quake also triggered landslides that hindered rescue efforts, officials told state television. At least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected, Iranian media reported.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday, urging all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected. State TV appealed for blood donations.

The US Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude 7.3. An Iraqi meteorology official put its magnitude at 6.5, with the epicentre in Penjwin in Sulaimaniyah province in the Kurdistan region, close to the main border crossing with Iran.

Tempers frayed in the quake-hit area as the search went on for survivors amidst the twisted rubble of collapsed buildings.
State TV aired footage of damaged buildings, vehicles under rubble and wounded people wrapped in blankets.

“We need a shelter,” a middle-aged man in told state TV. “Where is the aid? Where is the help?” His family could not spend another night outside in cold weather, he said.

Kurdish health officials said at least six people were killed in Iraq and at least 68 injured, adding that in northern Iraq Kurdish districts seven were killed and 325 wounded.

Iraq’s health and local officials said the worst-hit area was Darbandikham district, near the border with Iran, where at least 10 houses had collapsed and the district’s only hospital was severely damaged.

“The situation there is very critical,” Kurdish Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed told Reuters.

First Published: Tue, November 14 2017. 01:33 IST
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