DhakaTribune
Wednesday November 22, 2017 03:12 AM

Strong earthquake hits Iraq-Iran border, killing 413 injuring 6,668

  • Published at 09:23 AM November 13, 2017
  • Last updated at 09:56 PM November 13, 2017
Strong earthquake hits Iraq-Iran border, killing 413 injuring 6,668
A man walks past a damaged home in the mountainous town of Darbandikhan in Iraqi Kurdistan on November 13, 2017, following a 7.3-magnitude quake that hit the Iraq-Iran border areaAFP

Iran sits astride major fault lines and is prone to frequent tremors. A magnitude 6.6 quake on December 26, 2003, devastated the historic city of Bam, killing about 31,000 people

More than 407 people were killed in Iran when a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the country on Sunday, state media said, 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 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 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.

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

Cold weather

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.

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.

Iran’s police, the 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 magnitude 6.6 quake on December 26, 2003, devastated the historic city of Bam, killing about 31,000 people.

Hospital severely damaged

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.

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

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

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 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, Kinik said the Turkish Red Crescent was gathering 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.

 

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