At least 36 people were killed and dozens were injured in a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that hit northeast Iraq on Sunday night and border regions of Iran and Turkey.
The quake was recorded at about thirty km southwest of the city of Halabja, in a mountainous area of the Iraqi province of Suleimaniya, said the US Geological Institute (USGS).
This quake was felt in Iran, where seven people were killed, as well as in Turkey, where no casualties were reported at the moment.
“At the moment, we have 30 dead in different cities,” Mojtaba Nikkerdar, the deputy governor of Kermanshah province, bordering Iraq, told national television.
According to national television, the quake left at least 200 injured, and Nikkerdar warned that the numbers could get much higher.
In Iraq, the quake killed six people in the province of Suleimaniya, located in the region of Iraqi Kurdistan, according to officials.
“Four people were killed and about 50 wounded in the town of Darbandajan, about 60 km south of the city of Suleimaniya”, said it’s mayor, Naseh Mula Hasan.
In addition, “a child and an elderly man were killed and 105 people were injured” in the Kalar region, according to the director of the hospital in this town, located further south.
All over the city’s, inhabitants took to the streets for safety during the earthquake and there was major structural damage to buildings, according to an AFP correspondent.
The shock hit all the provinces of Iraq, said correspondents, while in the capital, Baghdad, they could feel the shock waves for about 20 seconds.
In Iran, the most affected cities appear to be Qasr-e Shirin, on the border with Iraq, in the province of Kermanshah and Azgaleh, about 40 km to the northeast, according to information released by state media.
“We are installing three emergency camps” in this area, the deputy governor of Kermanshah told state television.
About thirty rescue teams of the Red Cross were moving to the affected areas, according to the official press agency Irna.
Interviewed by public television on the way to Qasr-e Shirin, Pir Hosein Koolivand, head of the National Emergency Service, said that “it is difficult to send relief teams to the villages because the roads have been cut off … there have been major landslides “
According to the website of the state network television, the schools will remain closed on Monday in the provinces of Kermanshah and Ilam, affected by the earthquake.
In Iraq, in Darbandajan, and in Iran, in the province of Ilam – bordering Iraq – the authorities urged the inhabitants to sleep outside their homes and, in some cases, to move out as far as they can, as a precaution.
In many areas of those affected countries, the electricity was cut because of the earthquake, non-telling when power will be back on.
The shaking was also felt in the Turkish southeast par of the country, bordering Iran and Iraq and in the city of Diyarbakir, the inhabitants left their homes during the tremor, although they returned to them soon after.
The last major earthquake in Iran dates back to December 2003 in Bam, in the province of Kerman (southeast). At least 31,000 people died and the city was almost totally destroyed.
In April 2013, there were two earthquakes in Iran, a few days apart, of magnitude 6.6 and 7.7, the strongest in that country since 1957.
They left countless masses dead in Iran and many others in neighboring Pakistan.
In June 1990, a magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit Iran, near the Caspian Sea (north), caused 40,000 deaths and more than 300,000 injuries, leaving half a million people homeless.
In a few seconds, an area of 2,100 km , where there were 27 cities and 1,871 towns spread across the provinces of Ghilan and Zandjan, was devastated.