Earthquake on Iran-Iraq border kills more than 300Heat Profit
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At least 336 people were killed in Iran and Iraq when a powerful quake hit the border region between the two countries on Sunday night, injuring thousands more.
The magnitude 7.3 earthquake was centred between Azgaleh and Sarpol-e Zahab towns, around 15km from the border with Iraq, in Kermanshah province home to Iran’s Kurdish ethnic minorities.
There are fears that the death toll will rise amid reports that whole villages have been levelled.
The province’s officials said that most of the deaths were in Sarpol-e Zahab — home to 34,000 — where 236 people have reportedly been killed and the main hospital severely damaged.
Salas Babajani in Iran and Darbandikhan in Iraqi Kurdistan were other towns badly affected while the quake was felt in countries across the region, including Turkey, Kuwait and Israel.
Iran’s state television reported on Monday that 500 villages were hit and more than 100 aftershocks as big as magnitude 5 were felt. Many residents of Kermanshah province spent the night outside their homes.
The Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people needed emergency shelter while interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, expressed concerns that some roads to villages were not yet accessible.
“The death tolls do not include casualties in remote villages in mountainous areas yet, where access is difficult and electricity and phones have been cut off,” said Bahram Waladbeigi, a Kurdish political activist, who was in touch with local people in quake-hit areas. “Helicopters have managed to reach to some villages where not even one home has remained and have given people food and blankets. No one knows how many have died.”
Tasnim news agency said some villages were “100 per cent destroyed”.
Local media reported that a shortage of medicine and hospital facilities had impeded the treatment of the more than 3,950 injured, 700 of whom were hospitalised.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the conventional army and their top commanders were dispatched to the region. Some cabinet members were also travelling to the devastated region. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani will visit on Tuesday.
In northern Iraq, Kurdish local media said hundreds of people were hospitalised. The local news station Rudaw said seven people had died in the quake and more than 300 people had been hospitalised.
The heaviest hit area in Iraqi Kurdistan was the Darbandikhan area, where a dam sustained minor damage. Local officials said the dam did not pose a threat but the town’s mayor told Kurdish media that residents should stay out of the dam’s path. He also said a number of homes had collapsed and that people may have been trapped beneath the buildings, Rudaw said.
Iran sits on major faultlines and is subject to deadly quakes. The worst in recent history happened in 2003 when 31,000 people died in the historical city of Bam in southern Iran. Sunday’s quake was the strongest in the Kurdish region since 1847.
Any quake in Iran is a reminder to Tehran’s 12m residents of their city’s vulnerability. Seismological experts believe many high rises and new buildings in Iran’s capital lack quake-proof standards which put them at the risk of collapse in the event of a magnitude 6 earthquake.
Additional reporting by Erika Solomon in Beirut