Powerful earthquake on Iran-Iraq border kills 207 people

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In this photo provided by the Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA, people look at destroyed buildings after an earthquake at the city of Sarpol-e-Zahab in western Iran, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. A powerful earthquake shook the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday, killing more than one hundred people and injuring some 800 in the mountainous region of Iran alone, state media there said. (Pouria Pakizeh/ISNA via AP)

PV International Desk : A powerful earthquake shook the Iran-Iraq border late Sunday, killing 207 people and injuring 1,686 in the mountainous region of Iran alone, Iranian state media said.

The Baghdad government did not immediately give word on casualties in that country, though Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued a directive for the country’s civil defense teams and “related institutions” to respond to the natural disaster.

The magnitude 7.3 quake was centered 19 miles (31 kilometers) 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 23.2 kilometers (14.4 miles), a shallow depth that can have broader damage. Magnitude 7 earthquakes on their own are capable of widespread, heavy damage.

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 on Monday and said rescue work was continuing overnight and would accelerate during the daytime.

Iran’s 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.

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 on Monday because of the temblor.