Netizen 24 IRL: Over 330 dead after earthquake in Iran-Iraq border region

Over 330 dead after earthquake in Iran-Iraq border region At least 332 people were killed in Iran and Iraq when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake h...

Over 330 dead after earthquake in Iran-Iraq border region

At least 332 people were killed in Iran and Iraq when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the region on Sunday, state media in the two countries said.

Rescuers are searching for dozens trapped under rubble in the mountainous area.

State television said more than 328 people were killed in Iran and at least 2,500 were injured. Local officials said the death toll would rise as search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran.

The earthquake was felt in several western provinces of Iran but the hardest hit province was Kermanshah, which announced three days of mourning. More than 236 of the victims were in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah province, about 15km 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.

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.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday, urging all government age ncies to do all they could to help those affected.

In statement, President Michael D Higgins also extended, on behalf of the people of Ireland, his sympathies to those affected by the earthquake. “May they receive the urgent assistance, and the solidarity, they need from the global community and their institutions,” he said.

Dancing buildings

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.

Kurdish health officials said at least four people were killed in Iraq and at least 50 inju red.

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.

“I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air,” said Majida Ameer, who ran out of her building in the capital’s Salihiya district with her three children. “I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquak e!’”

Similar scenes unfolded in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region, and across other cities in northern Iraq, close to the quake’s epicentre.

Electricity was cut off in several Iranian and Iraqi cities, and fears of aftershocks sent thousands of people in both countries out onto the streets and parks in cold weather.

A wounded boy is treated following an earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran. Photograph: Tasnim News Agency
A wounded boy is treated following an earthquake in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, I ran. Photograph: Tasnim News Agency

The Iranian seismological centre registered around 118 aftershocks and said more were expected. The head of Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.

Elite Revolutionary Guards and its affiliated Basij militia forces were dispatched to the quake-hit areas overnight, state TV reported.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said some roads were blocked and authorities were worried about casualties in remote villages. An 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 ma gnitude 6.6 quake on December 26th, 2003, devastated the historic city of Bam, 1,000 km southeast of Tehran, killing about 31,000 people.

Hospital damaged

On the Iraqi side, the most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, 75km east of the city of Sulaimaniyah in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.

More than 30 people were injured in the town, according to Kurdish Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed.

“The situation there is very critical,” he said.

A person injured by an earthquake is aided at Sulaimaniyah Hospital in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq. Photogra   ph: Shwan Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images
A person injured by an earthquake is aided at Sulaimaniyah Hospital in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq. Photograph: Shwan Mohammed/AFP/Getty Images

The district’s main hospital was severely damaged and had no power, Rasheed said, 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 centre advised people to stay away from buildings and not to use elevators in case of aftershocks.

Turkey and Israel

Residents of Turkey’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir also reported feeling a strong tremor, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties there.

Turkish Red Crescent chairman Kerem Kinik told broadcaster NTV that Red Crescent teams in Erbil were preparing to go to the site of the earthquake and that Turkey’s national disaster management agency, AFAD, and National Medical Rescue Teams (UMKE) were also preparing to head into Iraq.

AFAD’s chairman said the organisation was waiting for a reply to its offer for help.

In a tweet, Mr Kinik said the Turkish Red Crescent was gatheri ng 3,000 tents and heaters, 10,000 beds and blankets and moving them towards the Iraqi border.

“We are coordinating with Iranian and Iraqi Red Crescent groups. We are also getting prepared to make deliveries from our northern Iraq Erbil depot,” he said.

Israeli media said the quake was felt in many parts of Israel as well. In a statement, Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said, “My condolences to the people of Iran and Iraq over the loss of human life caused by the earthquake.”

Iran refuses to recognise Israel. - Reuters

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Netizen 24 Ireland: Netizen 24 IRL: Over 330 dead after earthquake in Iran-Iraq border region
Netizen 24 IRL: Over 330 dead after earthquake in Iran-Iraq border region
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