328 killed in Iran-Iraq earthquake

328 killed in Iran-Iraq earthquake

At least 328 people have reportedly been killed in a 7.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked Iranian and Iraqi border on Sunday night.

Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency raised the death toll to 328 on Monday morning, after a quake struck the country’s western provinces at 9.20pm local time on Sunday.

Local officials said the death toll would rise as search and rescue teams reached remote areas.

More than 70,000 people are in need of emergency shelter, according to the Iranian Red Crescent.

The hardest hit province was Kermanshah, where three days of mourning have been announced. More than 236 people died in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 10 miles from the Iraq border.

Farhad Tajari, the local MP, said 15 members of his family had been killed and that the town’s main hospital was severely damaged and struggling to treat hundreds of injured people.

The quake  was said to have triggered landslides that hindered rescue efforts.

“It hit 30 kilometres (19 miles) southwest of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan at around 9:20 pm on Sunday, when many people would have been at home,” the US Geological Survey said.

Mojtaba Nikkerdar, the deputy governor of Kermanshah, said authorities there were “in the process of setting up three emergency relief camps”.

Iran’s emergency services chief Pir Hossein Koolivand said it was “difficult to send rescue teams to the villages because the roads have been cut off… there have been landslides”.

The official IRNA news agency said 30 Red Cross teams had been sent to the quake zone, parts of which had experienced power cuts.

In Iraq, officials said the quake had killed six people in the northern province of Sulaimaniyah and injured around 150.

Footage posted on Twitter showed panicked people fleeing a building in Sulaimaniyah, as windows shattered at the moment the quake struck, while images from the nearby town of Darbandikhan showed major walls and concrete structures had collapsed.

In 1990, a 7.4-magnitude quake near the Caspian sea in northern Iran killed 40,000 people and left 300,000 more injured and half a million homeless. Within seconds the quake reduced dozens of towns and nearly 2,000 villages to rubble.

Thirteen years later, a catastrophic quake struck the ancient southeast Iranian city of Bam, famed for its mud brick buildings, killing at least 31,000 people and flattening swathes of the city.

Since then, Iran has experienced at least two major quake disasters, one in 2005 that killed more than 600 and another in 2012 that left some 300 dead.

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