7.3 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Border of Iran and Iraq: 300 Killed, 4000 Injured

The death toll keeps rising.

News reports indicate more than 300 people were killed and more than 4,000 were injured after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Iran and Iraq late yesterday. Iran state news agency Irna reported a much higher estimate, however, quoting an emergency official as saying6,603 people were injured in the country alone. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake, which hit 19 miles from Halabja, Iraq, reached a depth of over 14 miles. Aftershocks were felt as far away as Pakistan, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Turkey.

Speaking to Reuters, Baghdad resident Majida Ameer described her experience: “I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air. I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!'”

The city of Sarpol-e Zahab, in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, is believed to be the hardest hit. Authorities reported that at least 236 people had died and that the city’s main hospital had suffered severe damage.

Farhad Tarji, a member of Parliament for Sarpol-e Zahab, told state news that his family had suffered major losses as a result of the quake. “I’ve lost 15 people,” he said.

On the Iraqi side, BBC reporter Rami Ruhayem, speaking from the regional capital Irbil, described shaking that lasted for more than a minute. For a few seconds at first it was barely detectable, I wasn’t sure whether it was a minor tremor or just my imagination,” he said. “But soon enough it was unmistakable as the building started swaying from side to side.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi tweeted that he “instructed civil defense teams and health and aid agencies to do all that they can to provide assistance” to those affected by the disaster.

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