Iran-Iraq border earthquake death toll tops 200, officials say

Man reacts following on November 13, 2017 to earthquake the day before in Sarpol-e Zahab county in Kermanshah, Iran

Tasnim News Agency/Handout/REUTERS

Last Updated Nov 13, 2017 3:00 AM EST

TEHRAN, Iran — A powerful earthquake shook the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday, killing 214 people and injuring more than 2,500 in the mountainous region of Iran alone, Iranian state TV reported.

The temblor killed at least seven people in Iraq and injured 321 there, all in the country’s northern, semi-autonomous Kurdish region, according to Iraq’s Interior Ministry.

Monday’s Iranian TV report said more than half the casualties were from the town of Sar-Pol-Zahab and the district of Ezgeleh, which have a combined population of 30,000.

The only hospital in town was heavily damaged and the army has set up field hospitals to help those needing assistance. The TV says rescuers are trying to help those affected.

The magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the U.S. Geological Survey. It struck at a depth of 14.4 miles, a shallow depth that can result in broad damage. Magnitude 7 earthquakes in general are capable of widespread, heavy damage.

An injured man lies on a stretcher as he is taken to hospital after an earthquake at an unknown location in Iraq

Injured man in unknown location in Iraq lies on stretcher on November 13, 2017 as he is taken to hospital after earthquake the day before, in still image taken from video

Rudaw TV/Handout/Reuters

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.

The shaker was also felt in parts of Turkey and Israel, the Reuters news agency reports.

Electricity was cut off in several Iranian and Iraqi cities, Reuters says.

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

People sit on the pavement after an earthquake at an unknown location in Iraq

People in unknown location in Iraq sit on pavement after November 12, 2017 earthquake, in still image taken from video, on November 13, 2017

Rudaw TV/Handout/Reuters

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said rescue work was continuing overnight and would accelerate during the daytime.

“The night has made it difficult for helicopters to fly to the affected areas and some roads are also cut off… we are worried about remote villages,” Reuters quotes Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli as saying in an interview on state television.

Officials expected the casualty toll to rise when search and rescue teams reached remote areas of Iran, Reuters noted.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered his condolences on Monday morning and urged rescuers and all government agencies to do all they could to help those affected, state media reported.

A damaged storefront is seen after an earthquake in Halabja, Iraq

Damaged storefront is seen after arthquake in Halabja, Iraq, on November 12, 2017

Osama Golpy/Rudaw/Social Media/via Reuters

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 Monday 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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