More than 200 killed by Iran-Iraq earthquake

More than 200 killed by Iran-Iraq earthquake

More than 200 people have been killed in Iran and Iraq after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the border region between the two countries, the country's state media said.

Iran's state television said that at least 200 people had been killed, Associated Press reported, after the quake struck the country’s western provinces at 9.20pm local time on Sunday. More than 1,650 were injured.

Officials in Iraq reported that at least six people had died and 50 injured.

The US Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude 7.3, while 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. It struck 23.2km below the surface, a shallow depth that can have broader damage.

Rescuers worked through the night to find people trapped in collapsed buildings in towns affected by the quake, which was felt as far west as Israel and south to Baghdad.

The deputy governor of the Iranian border province of Kermanshah Mojtaba Nikkerdar told state television that the death toll would rise.

“There are still people under the rubble. We hope the number of dead and injured won’t rise too much, but it will rise,” the Guardian cited him as saying.

Nearly 100 of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 15km from the border. The main hospital of the town was severely damaged and struggling to treat hundreds of injured people, state television reported.

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 50 aftershocks and said more were expected. The head of Iranian Red Crescent said more than 70,000 people were in need of emergency shelter.

Iranian interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said some roads were blocked and there was concern about casualties in remote villages. The Iranian armed forces have been deployed to help the emergency services.

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, where the mayor told AFP that four people had died.

A child and an elderly person were killed in Kalar, according to the director of the hospital in the town about 70km south of Darbandikhan, and 105 people injured.

Kurdish health minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed said the situation in Darbandikhan was “very critical”. The district’s main hospital was severely damaged and had no power, Rasheed said, so the injured were being taken to Sulaimaniyah for treatment. There was extensive structural damage to buildings and homes, Reuters reported.