Powerful earthquake on Iran-Iraq border kills more than 400

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Tehran—A powerful earthquake shook the Iran- Iraq border, killing more than 400 people and injuring thousands of  others in the mountainous region of Iran alone, Iranian state media said.

The magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 31 kilometers outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the US Geological Survey.

It struck at a depth of 23.2 kilometers, a shallow depth that can have broader damage. Magnitude 7 earthquakes on their own are capable of widespread, heavy damage.

At least 407 people were killed and nearly 6,000 people in Iran were injured, according to officials and news agencies, and hundreds of people waited in line to donate blood in Tehran in response to a call from the governmen

The quake was felt as far west as the Mediterranean coast. Its worst damage appeared to be in Iran’s western Kermanshah province, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq. Residents in the rural area rely mainly on farming to make a living.

Iranian social media and news agencies showed images and videos of people fleeing their homes into the night. Some 50 aftershocks followed.

Iran’s state-run television reported the increase in casualties early today and said rescue work was continuing overnight and would accelerate during the daytime.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences this morning and urged rescuers and all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected, state media reported.

The semi-official ILNA news agency said at least 14 provinces in Iran had been affected by the earthquake.

Officials announced that schools in Kermanshah and Ilam provinces would be closed today because of the temblor.

Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

The last major casualty earthquake in Iran struck in East Azerbaijan province in August 2012, killing over 300 people.

 

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