TEHRAN – Deaths and injuries were reported after a strong earthquake struck the border region between Iran and Iraq on Sunday, with the Geographical Research Centre in Germany and the US Geological Survey measuring it at 7.3 on the Richter scale.
The two institutes disagreed about the exact epicentre of the quake, placing it on either side of the border, but both said it was in a remote mountainous region some 200 kilometres north-east of Baghdad and some 400 kilometres west of Tehran.
Two people were killed and at least 25 injured in the Iranian border town of Ghasre Shirin, the governor’s office confirmed on Sunday. Earlier reports had said six had died.
Rescue teams have been sent to the city, which Iranian state media reported to have suffered great damage, but they were being hampered by electricity outages.
The governor’s office said helicopters and sniffer dogs could only start working at first light. It was expected there would be more casualties found under the rubble.
Kurdish cities in Iraq such as Halabja, Erbil and Duhok were affected by the quake, Kurdish news agency Rudaw stated. Other media reports said it could be felt as far away as Kuwait and parts of Turkey.
Kurdistan24 news network reported that 16 people were taken to hospital with injuries in the Iraqi city of Kanaqin, while witnesses reported two deaths in the city of Kore in Erbil province. There was no official confirmation of these reports.
Turkey’s Health Ministry offered aid for northern Iraq, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Aid agencies said they were on standby to help. “Our humanitarian team in Iraq is monitoring today’s earthquake and is on standby to respond,” The International Rescue Committee (IRC) tweeted. -DPA