Middle East

Iraq-Iran border magnitude 7.3 earthquake leaves at least 12 dead, scores hurt

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Iraq and western Iran on Sunday, killing at least 12 people, according to an initial assessment reported by Iranian state television and Iraqi officials.

"Four people were killed by the earthquake" in Darbandikhan, the Iraqi town's mayor Nasseh Moulla Hassan told AFP. Two more people were killed in Kalar, according to the director of the hospital in the town about 70km south of Darbandikhan. At least 150 were injured, Iraqi officials said.

Six victims died in the Iranian border town of Qasr-e Shirin, regional Governor Faramarz Akbari told state television.

Iran is especially prone to almost daily earthquakes because it sits astride many fault lines. A magnitude 6.6 devastated the historic city of Bam in 2003, killing about 26,000 people. Many local houses there are made of mud bricks, which can crumble easily.

The quake was felt in several Iranian provinces bordering Iraq ..#earthquakepic.twitter.com/HXOl8xtTMr

— Javed (@MJaved644) November 12, 2017

The temblor was centred 32km southwest of Halabja, Iraq, near the northeastern border with Iran, the US Geological Survey said. It struck the mountainous area of Sulaimaniyah province at 9:18 pm local time (1818 GMT) at a depth of 33.9km, the monitor said.

It was felt for about 20 seconds in Baghdad, and sometimes for longer in other provinces of Iraq.

In the province of Sulaimaniyah, located in Iraq's Kurdistan region, residents ran out onto the streets at the time of the quake and some property damage was recorded, an AFP reporter said.

In Iran, the ISNA news agency said that the earthquake was felt in several cities in the west of the country including Tabriz.

Iranian state television said the quake was felt in numerous cities in the country and had damaged eight villages, including knocking out electricity in many of them.

The semi-official Iranian ILNA news agency reported that at least 14 provinces had been impacted by the earthquake.

Iranian social media was abuzz with posts of people evacuating their homes, especially from the cities of Ghasr-e Shirin – near the Iraqi border – and Kermanshah, the Guardian reported

Esmail Najar, head of Iran's National Disaster Management Organization, said: “Some injured people might be buried under the rubble in Ghasr-e Shirin”.

In southeastern Turkey, the earthquake was felt "from Malatya to Van", an AFP correspondent said. In the town of Diyarbakir, residents also left their homes before returning.

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