By NewsDesk, with Agency report,
No fewer than 332 people have been reported killed in Iran and Iraq after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the region yesterday, while rescue team were searching for dozens trapped under rubble within mountainous area.
It was reported that more than 328 people were killed in Iran and that 2,500 were injured, with expectation for death toll to rise as search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran.
According to media reports, the earthquake was felt in several western provinces of Iran but the hardest hit was that of Kermanshah, which announced three days of mourning.
Officials said that more than 236 of the victims were in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah province, about 15 km (10 miles) from the Iraq border.
Iranian state television stated that the quake had caused heavy damage in some villages where houses were made of earthen bricks. Rescuers were laboring to find survivors trapped under collapsed buildings.
It added that the quake also triggered landslides that hindered rescue efforts, officials told state television. At least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday, urging all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected.
Meanwhile, U.S. Geological Survey reported that the quake measured magnitude 7.3. but Iraqi meteorology official put its magnitude at 6.5 with the epicenter in Penjwin in Sulaimaniyah province in the Kurdistan region, close to the main border crossing with Iran.
A Kurdish health officials reported that at least four people were killed in Iraq but that, 50 were injured.
He added that the quake was felt as far south as Baghdad, where many residents rushed from their houses and tall buildings when tremors shook the Iraqi capital.
A resident in the affected area, Majida Ameer, who ran out of her building in the capital’s Salihiya district with her three children, narrated that she was sitting with her when her building started shaking violently.
“I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air,”
“I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!’”
Another report had that there was similar scenes unfolded in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, and across other cities in northern Iraq, close to the quake’s epicenter.
The Iranian seismological center registered around 118 aftershocks and said more were expected, just as head of Iranian Red Crescent disclosed that more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.
Iran’s police, the elite Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated Basij militia forces were said to had been deployed to the quake-hit areas overnight.
The Iranian Interior Minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, said that roads were blocked and authorities were worried about casualties in remote villages.
Although, the Iranian oil official said pipelines and refineries in the area remained intact.
Iran sits astride major fault lines and is prone to frequent tremors. A magnitude 6.6 quake on Dec. 26, 2003, devastated the historic city of Bam, 1,000 km southeast of Tehran, killing about 31,000 people.
On the Iraqi side, the most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, 75 km east of the city of Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
The Kurdish Health Minister, Rekawt Rasheed.More, stated that more than 30 people were injured in the town and that the situation was critical.
“The district’s main hospital was severely damaged and had no power, so the injured were taken to Sulaimaniyah for treatment. Homes and buildings had extensive structural damage”, he said.
In Halabja, local officials said a 12-year-old boy died of an electric shock from a falling electric cable.
Iraq’s meteorology center advised people to stay away from buildings and not to use elevators in case of aftershocks.